Best in class
By Joni Moths Mueller
Photos by Aaron Ledesma
Hands down, it was four furry friends who swept the top half of this bell curve last week, earning A’s for patience, furriness, cold noses, sweet eyes and providing students with a few study-free minutes of play. The therapy dogs had a job to do and took it seriously — so did the students who stole minutes from studying for finals for a little pet play.
Sophomore Stefanie Yordan spotted Buddy, Toby, Bailey and Cooper and the stress of three upcoming finals was temporarily forgotten. “This puts me back in a good place,” she says. “There’s more to life than studying.”
The four therapy dogs from Health Heelers visited campus twice last week, both times corralling a crowd of hundreds of students who needed a healthy break from books and papers. The visit was coordinated by the university’s Counseling Center.
Dog therapy wasn’t the only stress relief help offered to students — just the most popular.
“I’m allergic to dogs and cats, but I came anyway,” says freshman Christine Dancel. “I’ll just take allergy medicine.”
For freshman Andrea Saigh, the visit helped soften the recent loss of her own pet. But there’s a bright spot on the horizon for Saigh: “I’m dog-obsessed,” she says. “We picked out a golden retriever puppy that’s coming in January.”
In addition to dog therapy, there was candy — sugar to help keep energy levels high — and handouts offering students plenty of strategies for staying healthy and happy while studying for and taking finals. Among a list of 75 natural stress relievers were giving someone a hug, saying I love you to someone important, laughter and feeling loved. The dogs covered all of that really well.