Hannah Rauh | Staff Writer
Duquesne students were given a little taste of home last week, when therapy dogs came to visit at the library. For many students, this session was a quick escape from the workload and stress that comes with trying to balance homework, a job, friends, sports and extracurricular activities in college.
The therapy dogs provided a calm and welcoming environment for any student who was having a rough day, or was even just missing their own pets. The relaxed atmosphere of the library proved to be a great host for the dogs.
A 2018 study done by the University of British Columbia concluded that college students who spent time at therapy dog drop-in sessions experienced a boost in feelings of wellness and a reduction in overall stress.
“[Therapy dogs] mimic interactions with their own dogs at home and it frees them from the craziness of school and work,” said student Taylor McClure.
“The stress doesn’t go away, but it gives me the comfort of what I am missing from home and provides a distraction,” said student Jenna Keip.
For students who have their own pets at home, the therapy dog sessions hosted at the library can give them a sense of comfort.
These therapy dogs and their owners are dedicated to their jobs. Each dog has to go through a rigorous six week training program where they perform practice visits at hospitals, nursing homes, and schools. They complete training with fake patients and are also exposed to wheelchairs, crutches and different types of medical equipment so in a real-life situation, the dogs are prepared to behave in a polite manner.
Buddy, a seven-year-old Australian shepherd and border collie mix, was one of the therapy dogs who visited on Thursday. Buddy was trained through the Animal Friends Therapets program.
According to the Animal Friends website, the group is “committed to promoting the animal-human bond and nurturing relationships with companion animals which are guided by compassion.”
Accompanied by their human handlers, therapets like dogs, cats and rabbits visit hospitals, specialized care facilities and college campuses.
Aside from therapy pet sessions, the Animal Friends group hosts events like bunny yoga, dog washes and crafting with cats.
Often, people don’t actually know the difference between therapy dogs, emotional support dogs and service dogs. They all have their own separate ways of helping people, and it is definitely important to know the difference.
Service dogs are defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act as “dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.”
Emotional support dogs are defined by the United States Dog Registry as “a dog that provides comfort and support in forms of affection and companionship for an individual suffering from various mental and emotional conditions. They are meant for unconditional love and emotional stability.”
Therapy dogs, like the ones who recently visited the library, are dogs trained to provide affection and comfort in different locations such as hospitals, nursing homes and schools.
Duquesne will host therapy dogs Sunday, Nov. 17, from 7 to 8 p.m. in Mellon Hall. This session will be hosted by the Pre-Vet
and Animal Enthusiasts Club.
Kellen Stepler contributed in reporting