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Therapy dogs coming to campus

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Photo courtesy of Taylor MeredithPhoto courtesy of Taylor MeredithPhoto courtesy of Taylor Meredith

As exam week fast approaches and deadlines loom in the near future, it is easy to feel overstressed. Six dogs want to help. In an event coordinated by the Counseling and Wellness Center (CWC) and the Positive Programming Committee —formed after the task force recommendations —certified therapy dogs of a variety of sizes and ages will be coming to Z-Green on Dec. 4.

The dogs are being brought to campus by the Humane Society of Sarasota County, however, therapy dogs are not adoptable, but rather are people’s pets who have gone through a course to become certified. Part of the agreement with the Humane Society was that New College would give a $100 donation that will go towards future trainings.

Therapy dogs are trained to provide affection and comfort and are usually taken to places like hospitals, nursing homes or recent disaster areas. In 2009 therapy dogs were first brought to a college campus at UC San Diego to help students de-stress around finals. Similar events have since spread to campuses across the country.

At New College the dogs will be on z-green for students to play with. “They’re going to bring toys so they can play frisbee and stuff,” Campus Health Coordinator Amanda “Mandy” Parente said. “Or you can just lay in the grass and have a puppy lick your face, it’s whatever you want.” There will also be snacks and a coloring station under a tent for students who might be allergic to dogs.

Though these dogs are specifically trained to comfort, pets in general play a significant role in reducing stress. Studies have shown that pet owners tend to have significantly fewer stress symptoms than those with no pets. In fact, owning a pet can reduce stress-related blood pressure more than medication.

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