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Davis, California

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Davis students to de-stress with dogs

On Thursday, the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) Stress and Wellness Ambassador Program is hosting an event aimed at reducing student stress through dog therapy.

The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Memorial Union patio.

With stressful class schedules and time consuming extracurricular activities, many UC Davis students have issues dealing with their stress in an effective way. The Stress and Wellness Ambassadors hope to help students de-stress with the event.

“More than 35 percent [of UC Davis students] indicate stress hurts their academics, and nearly all UC Davis students indicated they felt overwhelmed or exhausted at some point during the school year,” said Dorje Jennette, stress and wellness clinic coordinator, in an e-mail interview. “We want to help students succeed and feel better through providing opportunities to manage stress better.”

Pet therapy is a technique that has been shown to provide stress and health benefits.

“It’s been proven in studies that just petting an animal lowers blood pressure, and for most people dogs just bring a smile to their face,” said Deb Haggerty, member of Independent Therapy Dogs Inc. and owner of Spuddy, a golden retriever who will be at the event on Thursday.

Stress and Wellness Ambassadors said they hope to help students deal with their stress in new ways through this event.

“We just wanted to put on an event where students can de-stress in a way that they may not be able to normally if they don’t have a pet. We’re trying to use the benefits of pet therapy for students,” said Emily He, Stress and Wellness Ambassador.

The idea comes from a similar and very successful event at UC San Diego, said Barb McKown, who participated in the de-stress day with her therapy dog.

“Students, staff and educators all flock to the dogs. You’ll see magic happen. The students’ faces will become more animated, their faces and bodies will relax and many will start sharing their experiences,” McKown said.

The dogs that will be at UC Davis will come from both the Yolo County SPCA and Independent Therapy Dogs Inc., a registered therapy dog organization.

As companions, dogs can help people live a happy life, Jennette said.

“Dogs can decrease stress through providing unconditional companionship, getting us out interacting with other people who like dogs and being so affectionate that it’s nearly impossible to stay in a bad mood,” she said.

On the Facebook event for the UC Davis Therapy Fluffies De-Stress Event, 2,674 students said they would be attending as of Tuesday.

Haggerty is excited that UC Davis has chosen to hold a therapy dog event and is looking forward to bringing her dog to campus to help students.

“It allows me to spend time with my dog and be able to share my dog and the wonderful things that dogs can bring to people,” Haggerty said. “It’s really heartwarming; it’s feel-good for everyone.”

HANNAH STRUMWASSER can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.


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