ST. LOUIS – Washington University has two new employees joining its campus police department to bring comfort on campus. Brother and sister duo, Bear and Brookie, are only 18 months old, and already have the best job at Wash U – making students smile.

“They’re more popular than anybody on campus right now,” said Washington University Chief of Police, Angela Coonce. She explained the department looked for ways that it could respond better to crisis calls. 

Officers even looked at therapy dog programs at other colleges – including the University of Illinois, which uses around six therapy dogs on its campus. 

“Everyone connects with a puppy. So, having the dogs on campus, the students are willing to come up to us now and talk to us and spend time with the dogs. Therefore, we made a lot of relationships just in the short time they have been on campus,” Coonce added. 

The siblings are true underdogs. They were saved by Stray Rescue of St. Louis in December, where rescuers found them living in trash.

“To tell their story – that they were literally thrown away – and now the life that they are given on campus – they have a family, and a job for life,” Coonce said with a smile. 

Once the pups were trained for tricks and manners, the students chose the puppies’ names. Bear (male) is named after Wash U’s mascot, and “Brookie” (female) after the famous Brookings Hall building. Needless to say, the puppies were popular overnight, and even have their own rapidly growing Instagram account.

Officer Jessie Siefert is bear’s handler, and officer Greg Casem is Brookie’s handler. Both have shared that the pooches have changed their lives. 

“The joy on [students’] faces are what I get to go home and be happy every day about. It brings a lot of joy to my job to see us bring that joy to students and staff,” Siefert described. 

In the wake of the recent school shooting in Nashville and the shooting at a St. Louis high school last year, police and school officials realize the need for more mental health support on campus and outside of campus. 

“It’s a scary time, and we want to be there, and we want to be present, but we also want them to know that we’re there for them, they we’re providing some sort of comfort, and it means to them to express their feelings about this in the school shootings,” Coonce promises. 

If you’re stressed for a test or just in need of some licks and pets, Bear and Brookie are at your service. You can follow the pups and their meet-and-greet events on Instagram – at @WUPDdogs.