The foyer of the Goergen Athletic Center was filled with smiles, wagging tails, and a chorus of heart-softening barks this past Monday at the “Day of the Dogs”, a therapy event sponsored by UHS.
Part of UHS’ “Feel Fabulous in February” campaign, the event sought to calm stressed-out students during midterm season with the help of man’s best friend.
Six dogs — Bailey, Eve, Alex, Kendall, Millie, Wesley, and Percy — were spread around the lobby of Goergen and met by swarms of excited students who wanted to spend their evening cuddling dogs.
Popular belief and some research suggests interacting with pets can be therapeutic. Playing with animals, especially therapy animals trained to be calm and stoic, releases endorphins for an individual, which reduces overall stress levels in the body.
The group of dogs that visited UR is part of the organization Therapy Dogs International, which certifies animals to help with therapy all over the world. The dogs that came to UR either work at Strong Memorial Hospital or in the local schools during the day.
At the hospital, the dogs work in several different wards, with patients ranging from children to senior citizens.
“It really makes a huge difference for kids and their families,” said Bailey’s owner.
The dogs also have worked in dentists’ offices, sometimes waiting with the parents of children who are undergoing surgery to placate their stress levels.
In schools, the dogs work with students in the second or third grades during their reading program.
Every now and then, the dogs come to UR, where they make college students forget all of their worries and midterms — for just a little bit.
First-year Alex Rutkowski explained the effect of the dogs in perhaps best way: “Seeing the dogs made me miss my dog, even though I don’t have one.”