Treasures: TU Talks About Bruno

Towson University’s newest Tiger has brown fur, a wiggly tail and a love of tiny tennis balls.

TU comfort dog Bruno

Meet Bruno, a chocolate lab and TU’s first comfort dog—a trained companion who provides cuddles and connection to students, faculty and staff.

Albert S. Cook Library staff members have partnered with Pets on Wheels for years to bring therapy dogs on campus during finals, but this is the first time the university has had a resident furry destresser.

Adding a comfort dog to campus rose out of the 2023 Big Give, when a donor established a fund to bring a puppy to campus and pay for his care. Any future donations to the fund will pay for Bruno’s food, training and health expenses. 

Bruno TU's comfort dog

Vice President of University Advancement Brian DeFilippis and his family’s gift ensured the TU community met the goal. “Our family is excited to support the Canine Comfort Companion program at TU because we know the immense value that a dog can bring to a community,” says Heather DeFilippis ’00. “Dogs always lead with compassion and love.”

Research shows that interacting with dogs increases dopamine and serotonin levels and deescalates stressful situations. Drawing from that, Bruno will provide emotional support and companionship as part of TU’s community policing approach. The dog lives and works alongside TUPD patrol officer Jafar Taru, offering a comforting presence at building walk-throughs and calls for service. 

“He’s not like traditional K-9s trained to detect substances or aid search and rescue,” says Taru. “His sole focus is to reinforce the well-being of our campus community.” 

Bruno with handler Jafar Taru

Bruno started paw-trol in February. He will be on campus 220 days this year, and he’s already incredibly popular. Bruno sightings draw everyone—faculty, staff and students—in the immediate vicinity.

And out of it.

Within his first week of official duties, Bruno appeared on WBAL and twice on WBFF and also was featured in articles by the Baltimore Banner and the Chronicle of Higher Education. The Instagram post introducing the pup to campus received nearly 3,000 likes, 101 comments and more than 600 shares, and it reached more than 18,000 people. 

The university community was involved in choosing the pup’s name via a social media poll, with options including Ty, Chap and Goldie, but Bruno—the name suggested by Taru’s daughter—won by a landslide. 

It seems, this time, everyone is talking about Bruno.