Students support man’s best friend, make mats for adopted

Capri Scarcelli | a&e editor. A group of students tell stories of their dogs at home while learning about their interactions.

by Capri Scarcelli | a&e editor

March 17, 2022

Studies show that dogs bring out the best in people – that is, according to professor Anne Burrows. 

Burrows is an anthropologist who teaches anatomy at Duquesne. While fascinated with all things evolution, Burrows found her love through research with dogs, specifically the dog-human bond. Through facial expressions and mutual gaze, dogs create a connection with their owner, Burrows said, which explains why so many people consider their dogs such an important part of their lives.

To express her love for these furry friends, Burrows hosted an event in Tower’s MPR on March 16 at 6:30 p.m. to allow students the opportunity to learn about their pets at a deeper cognitive level. She detailed the distinction between wolves and dogs, where the species originated and how long ago; she showed not only the physical differences between each breed, but also the behavioral ones. 

“No human culture lacks dogs,” Burrows said. “If you can spend time with a dog, it can lower your stress levels, and release oxytocin between the mutual gaze.” 

Students were welcome to relax and enjoy making their own “sniffing mats” during the discussion. Sniffing mats are mini carpets that help dogs become more familiar/comfortable with their owners. Using discarded fabric, students helped cut old t-shirts into thin rectangles, tying together different colors through the plastic holes that allowed them to weave a pattern for the pups. According to Burrows, these mats are very important to helping dogs build their confidence before adoption.

“I work at Animal Friends, and I go three nights a week to help make dogs more adoptable,” Burrows said. “Every time a dog is adopted, they get to take their sniffing mat home as a gift to them for their good behavior.” 

The mats can be made to fit any dog’s size or needs, and they can even be made to hide treats in them for a yummy surprise. 

Olivia Origer, physical therapy major and RA for Towers, thought this event would be a relaxing, interactive event for her floor.

“Making the mats kept me busy instead of scrolling through my phone, and I honestly loved hearing everyone talk about their dogs,” Origer said. 

Having to choose a professor to give a lecture for her floor program, Origer said she chose Burrows because she wanted a sneak-peek of her dogs and humans interactions class, which is available irregularly to students.

According to pre-law student Zachary Seddon, this presentation helped him learn more about his emotional support dog. 

“As an RA, I had my dog on the wing, and I noticed the guys would actually quiet down at night once they found out I had a dog in my room,” Seddon said. “It’s crazy to think how much people will care for these pets.”