Pet therapy brings fuzzy friends to campus

 

By Lauren Minore

Rider’s Counseling Center Outreach Services brought pet therapy dogs to campus to ease tension, reduce stress and lift moods of students on Oct. 25th.

“The therapy dog and handler teams that come to the Lawrenceville campus are registered members with Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs, Inc. and Therapy Dogs International. They voluntarily attend Counseling Center Sponsored Pet Therapy Visit events at the request of the Outreach Team,” said Lisa Spatafore, psychologist and supervisor of counseling services.

The pet therapy program provides positive animal interactions to help alleviate the stress caused by heavy student workloads.

For over ten years since the program has been running on campus, pet therapy has fostered relationships between volunteers, students and the dogs.

“Students seem to immediately feel benefits from their engagement with the dogs. It is my guess that the comfort they are feeling is what leads them to enjoy the event and find it helpful,” said Spatafore. “We would not be able to have a successful pet therapy program without the help of our wonderful volunteers that are willing to give their own time and their dogs’ time to spend with students.”

The interactions students experienced reminded them of their own pets at home.

“Pet therapy provides a sense of home for students,” said Jacqueline Crowe, a sophomore public relations major. “I miss my dogs and being able to see the dogs here reminded me of mine at home. It was comforting.”

Bernese mountain dogs, golden retrievers and great pyrenees mixed dogs were among the different breeds featured at the event.

“Dogs are my favorite animal,” said Kerri Marano, junior elementary education major. “It was so funny just sitting there and playing with all the different dogs and seeing all of their different personalities.”

With Halloween around the corner, the pet therapy dogs were dressed in costumes to celebrate the holiday.

“I loved seeing all the dogs dressed up,” said Crowe. “It was a good escape for a little bit.”

 

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