Health and Wellness Center hosts ‘PAWS for Mental Health’

By Jennifer Morales

Last Friday, the Paws of Love organization brought two dogs to campus as stress relievers for students.

The Health and Wellness Center partnered with Student Health and Counseling Services to host Paws for Mental Health with Paws of Love.

“[Paws for Mental Health] is one part the Counseling Center does to promote health and to help students cope with what they are going through,” Mary Holtom, one of the counseling center’s psychologists said.

Paws of Love is an organization that runs a therapy dogs program, which caters to people with terminal illnesses, children with special needs, seniors in senior homes and stressed students.

Along with charity fundraisers, Paws of Love also promotes comfort, assistance and company for those who need it.

In order for dogs to be eligible for the therapy dog program, the dogs need to go through a process to ensure they are appropriate for the program.

Each dog has to complete an application, be approved, go to a therapy dog prep school and pass the AKC Canine Good Citizen test.

Aside from promoting health, the event showed students multiple ways to relax.

Students do not have to rely just on the typical four-wall therapy room.

Animals also have the ability to create a Zen-like atmosphere to help students.

The two dogs out at University Park were Gumbo, a 9-year”old white maltipoo and Sadie, a 16-month-old black labrador retriever.

If students wanted to join the fun and meet the dogs, they simply had to sign a liability form.

“I’m a sucker for dogs, and it is really nice that they came out with stress relievers [especially] during this time in the quarter around midterm week and week six when it is the most stressful,” second-year chemical engineering student Emily Thompson said.

The comment Thompson made greatly connected with the main reason the organization has therapy dogs.

The dogs are specifically trained to attune to people’s emotions and feelings, which helps relieve stress in students.

Additionally, the connection between the students and the dogs creates a safe and peaceful environment allowing students to take their minds off of school for a little bit.

As more students came by the event to get more information about the program, the dogs lured the students in with their cuteness.

“[The dogs] cheer you up since being on campus and being in college is stressful,” Kyle Dickinson, a second-year computer science student, said.

“It’s good to have them [dogs] on campus to de-stress.”

After enjoying time with the dogs, each student left with a smile and some sense of peace.

“[I] definitely feel more relaxed,” Thompson said.

This form of therapy helped all students at the event because they focused on the dogs and not about what is due in the upcoming weeks.

“[CPP] should have more [dogs] more often,” Dickinson said.

That is exactly the goal.

There will be more Paws for Mental Health events to come in the future.

Emily Thompson enjoyed spending some time with one of the therapy dogs, Sadie

Melissa Lopez / The Poly Post

Emily Thompson enjoyed spending some time with one of the therapy dogs, Sadie

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