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Therapy dogs ease stress of finals at Grossmont College

Posted on: Dec 5, 2013 10:00:00 AM
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Contact: Donald Harrison (619) 644-7840 donald.harrison@gcccd.edu

Therapy Dogs Muddy and Kimo and their canine friends made their temporary homes outside the Grossmont College Library on Wednesday, Dec. 4.  Their missions--which they joyfully performed -- were to help reduce stress among students preparing for their final examinations.

Among the students who enjoyed petting and cuddling the four-legged volunteers from the Independent Therapy Dogs organization was Morgan Rain, who said the dogs were a perfect opportunity to give her mind some respite from upcoming exams in economics and calculus.

"I think animals are of a different type than humans," she reflected. "They are accepting, and when you pet them you kind of forget about your stress and you are able to connect with another creature."

She said she had been crossing campus when she spotted the dogs on the library lawn. At first she passed them, then doubled back, deciding that she really wanted to pet a dog.  "I like thinking about how dogs live in the moment," she said.  "Just look at their faces, they are so serene."

Muddy is a 2 1/2 year old golden retriever and Kimo is his five-month old son. Their owner, Sandy Story, said that in order to qualify as therapy dogs, the two also had to pass various tests-- although they didn't stress over them like some humans do. 

"They have to be able to sit, be able to stay, and want to be petted," she said.  "Depending on where we go, they have to be okay with having their tails pulled or their faces pulled.  Their temperament must be one that they enjoy people."

To become Canine Good Citizens, they also have to be able to lie down and stay in that position while their owner walks 25 feet away and back to them.   Afterwards, when the owners call them from a distance, they have to come.  To become certified as therapy dogs, they also need to understand the command 'leave it' so, for example, when they are visiting patients in hospitals, "they don't pick up bloody gauze, or needles, or syringes."

The therapy dog program on campus was organized several years ago by librarian Nadra Farina-Hess, after she took her own Boxer dog to a hospital to visit her ailing mother, and found that everyone--patients, nurses, doctors and other staff -- all enjoyed petting the dog.

Therapy dog

Morgan Rain cuddles with Muddy, a golden retriever

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