Saturday, October 18, 2014

My Dog The Therapist: Helping College Students Cope With Stress

As a Pet Partners Therapy Dog team, Icy and I participate in children's reading programs, where kids practice and improve their reading skills by reading out loud to dogs.  We also visit seniors in nursing homes and kids in daycare centers.  One of the other fun assignments we have is visiting college students as part of Stress Buster events.

Whether you're Freshmen or Senior, college can be tough.  Although there have been many advancements over the years that make learning faster and easier, it can also make school more stressful.  With each generation, the bar seems to be raised and things get harder for students.  The pressure can be overwhelming.

Icy is just loving all this attention and petting!
When mid-terms and finals roll around, students are under maximum pressure.  Many colleges have started Stress Buster events where students on campus can visit with Therapy Dogs in order to help relieve stress and take a time out during mid-terms and finals.

I'm amazed at the number of students who sign up for these events!  At one event, we had 5 Therapy Dogs in a large common room.  Students waited outside the room for their turn to visit with the dogs.  Over a 2 day period, several hundred students came through to visit with the dogs!  Students were invited into the room 25 or 30 at a time to meet the dogs.  You could feel their tension as they first entered the room but within moments, as they caught sight of the dogs, they would break into smiles which ultimately turned into laughter. 

As they petted, hugged, and kissed her, the students asked lots of questions about Icy; is she a Husky, how old is she, does she shed a lot, does she love the snow, and other questions.  They talked about their own dogs waiting back home for them while they were away at school, and how much they missed them.  They pulled out their cell phones to take selfies with her and texted photos to friends telling them they had to come down to see "this gorgeous Husky with blue eyes!". 

It's a known fact that petting a dog, cat or other animal can reduce blood pressure and relieve stress.
The students loved Icy and had a lot of fun visiting with her.  As you can see from these photos, Icy basked in all the attention and affection.  When I asked the students if they felt their visit with her helped relieve some of the stress they were feeling, the answer was a resounding Yes, it did help relieve stress and they were glad to have the break.  It was rewarding to see them walk away after their visit with Icy, laughing and smiling, reluctant to leave her.  The Stress Buster events are definitely one of the most fun Therapy Dog programs we have participated in

I'm not sure who enjoyed these Therapy Dog visits more, the students or Icy!
What do you think about the concept of Stress Buster events at colleges?  Leave us a comment and weigh in on the idea of Therapy Dogs helping to relieve stress for college students.
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4 comments:

  1. Oh wow! Isis just looks so happy with all that attention!!! Love it!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

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    1. She was definitely in her Glory! Thanks for stopping by, Jenna!

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  2. I think it's a great idea! They just started doing this at Oklahoma State, which is right down the road from us.

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    1. That's great, I'm glad to see it's being done in OK as well. It's such a fun program, the students love it! Thanks for stopping by Lisa!

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