There is something magical about pets. When you are with them, it is like nothing else matters. They provide a break from stress, work, or whatever may be weighing you down. There is a reason that many schools, including Yale Law School, Syracuse University, and the University of Connecticut, have therapy dogs on campus that students can spend time with when they need a break.
Despite studies showing the therapeutic benefit of dogs for people, there is a major lack of dogs on the College’s campus. There are only a few dogs who live on campus, and it is rare to run into one.
Sadé Greenidge `24 commented on the therapeutic effects of dogs.
“Dogs have a therapeutic benefit, given that they release endorphins to those that enjoy being around them, and they would be helpful in a place like a college where stress levels are very high. Taking a break from academic responsibilities to hang out with a dog is so beneficial,” she said.
Seeing dogs on campus automatically brings smiles to people’s faces. Bella Hogan `25 walked a dog around for an afternoon and pointed out all the joy that it brought her.
“Dogs on campus bring so much joy and happiness. Just walking a dog around the other day, we had about fifteen different people stop and pet our dog, and it was just so much fun. They just bring so much joy and positivity to this campus,” she said.
She also mentioned how it was beneficial to her physical health.
“Walking the dog was a break from work and allowed us to exercise. It is almost like a therapy dog in some ways.”
When a dog visited an Ultimate Frisbee practice, it made everyone happier.
“Having a dog at practice made everyone smile and get excited to pat him and visit with him. Everyone stopped playing and came to visit because it is always so nice to see a good dog and give them some pats,” Captain Joe Grassi `25 said.
Dogs have an extremely positive impact on everyone who interacts with them.
Professor Mira Ptacin brought her dog, Huckleberry, to campus one day and allowed her students to interact with him.
“I had an impromptu bring-your-husband and dog-to-work day. He brought our dog, Huckleberry, at the last minute after I suggested that some dog snuggles after class would be very therapeutic for the students,” she said.
Greenidge is in Professor Ptacin’s class and was able to interact with Huckleberry, which made her day.
“Hanging out with dogs has had a positive impact on my mental and physical well-being. On Thursday mornings, I’m still pretty tired, but then Huckleberry was outside and I spent the rest of my day very happy and had a positive outlook on the day,” she said.
Ptacin explained why she decided to bring Huckleberry to campus.
“Dogs are extremely therapeutic. For me, they shrink any stress or anxiety that might be lingering in my brain, and I know some studies prove petting a dog can lower blood pressure and heart rate. At this point in the semester, we are all going full speed ahead, and it’s so important for us all to stop and smell the roses and pet furry little smooshbergs like Huckleberry,” she said.
Many students feel that having more dogs on campus would positively improve their mental health.
“Having more dogs on campus, or having more opportunities to interact with dogs on campus, would benefit my mental health because it would relieve my stress and anxiety associated with social and academic responsibilities,” Greenidge said.
“Dogs are extremely good for everyone’s mental health because it is impossible to see a cute dog and get to pat them and not become more happy. Unless you really don’t like dogs, any time anyone pats a dog for a while your brain can’t help but release serotonin, no matter how stressed you might be or how much you have going on. Even just a quick visit with a dog always makes your day so much better,” Grassi said.
I have lived with dogs since I was five and have felt their absence at the College.
There should be more dogs accessible to students because they do help mental health, which is a big issue on this campus. Stress is so high right now.
Students can spend time with both dogs and cats at the Waterville Humane Society, but it is difficult to reach without a car, so the opportunity only benefits some students.
Dogs have so many benefits, especially in a place like the College where students constantly struggle with stress and feel overwhelmed.
If there were more dogs on campus, students would be happier. Just seeing a dog makes people feel better, and they would make campus a brighter place.
“Good dogs simply make this world a better place. There is nothing sweeter than meeting a cute dog when you are walking around campus, and it always brightens up my day,” Grassi said.
~ Mairead Levitt `25
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