Puppy love is therapeutic

Attention all students looking to unwind from finals or just spend some time with the therapy animals: There will be a study break held in the Brooks lounges on May 5 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Massages will be available, too.

Yvonne Eaton–Stull, director of the Counseling Center, said while the therapy animals are available Mondays from 4 to 5 p.m. throughout the semester, more animals are being brought in at students’ requests for finals week.

In addition to free massages from a massage therapist and visits with the therapy animals, the study break event will also feature goody bags.

Attending this session are Maggie, the Labrador retriever, her brother, Zeus, Martin, a mixed breed, Ruby, a pug, Angel, the therapy cat and several other dogs.

In the past about 300 students each semester have shown up to make new four–legged friends, and Eaton–Stull is hoping for another great turnout.

“Please come and visit the dogs,” Eaton–Stull said. “They look forward to it as much as the students do. They love the attention.”

Allegheny sophomore Stephanie Clark, ’12, agreed with Eaton–Stull.

“Maggie and her friends remind me of my puppies at home; it’s nice to be able to just sit there and play with them and forget for ten minutes or so about the five papers you have to write,” Clark said.

Some students, when given the option, prefer fur.

“Massages would be nice, but I can bribe friends into giving me those; I can’t really bribe my friends into giving me a doggy.”

Clark, along with many other students, may wonder why animals provide such release.

Little do many students know, the unconditional love therapy pets provide can benefit people physically, psychologically and even socially.

According to Eaton–Stull, one of the more exciting things is the research done with therapy animals. Dogs provide chemical therapy for humans.  Cortisol, a chemical released by the body in response to stress, is decreased during animal therapy, which makes stressful situations more manageable.

Also, some studies show increases in serotonin levels, a bodily chemical affecting mood.

Eaton–Stull feels that these effects are great because people can find relief without medication.

Some students were definitely in compliance with these results.

Jigar Jethva, ’12, thought the event was a good idea, especially during finals.

“When most people think about or see a dog, they automatically become at ease,” Jethva said. “Stress is going to be very high this week. Anything that lowers stress is a good idea.”

Though a large majority of students believe the therapy dogs to be good stress-reducing outlets, not all agree.

Greg Coppolo, ’12, shared this view.

“It’s a waste of time,” Coppolo said. “I’d rather just get my work done so I don’t have to stress anymore.”

All things considered, one thing is for certain: all people deal with stress differently, but if you think taking a study break with animals will help you, (or if you carry tenseness in your shoulders) then the event will most likely be a doggone awesome time.


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