Therapy dogs visit library to comfort students

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Nathan Martinez
Harvey Peterson and his dog Claire visit Taylor Hendrix, undecided freshman, Jennifer Price undecided freshman and AunJelle Irlbeck, history freshman.

To give students a stress-free study break while they focus on finals, the Obedience Training Club brought their therapy dogs Buddy, Sydney, Merrily and Oliver to the Moffett Library on Dec. 2.

“The dogs love it, but it’s also very calming for the kids. It makes everyone happy,” Shera Humbert, Buddy’s owner, said.

The dogs come out to Moffett Library each semester during finals to comfort students who are overly stressed. All of the dogs that come out have attended obedience training to get certified as a therapy dog.

“We have to take tests and [the dogs] have to go through activity and agility tests to be registered,” Margaret Tresser, Sydney’s owner, said.

During the tests, the dogs are exposed to things like walkers, dropping ladders, and people running up to them so they know how to remain calm in any situation. Along with this, the dogs participate in teaching elementary school students about bite prevention.

“Therapy dogs are really born therapy dogs. You can’t make them that way; they have to get along with other dogs and generally like people,” Tresser said.

The owners volunteer their time each semester to bring the dogs to the library. The dogs main goal is to provide comfort for students that need it and to change student’s moods.

“Any program based on emotional support is one that we should support. These dogs increase the moods of students who are stressed about finals,” Kaitlin Raber, research biology sophomore, said.

Not only do the dogs visit college students, they also make trips to elementary schools and nursing homes within the community.

“The dogs must be really stable and well behaved. They take the dogs to first responders to help them relax,” Cindy Smith, Merrily’s owner, said.

Once the dogs have completed the first two levels of being a therapy dog, they can undergo training to become certified in crisis response. They visit first responders to alleviate their stress as well.

“I am very pleased that society is starting to recognize therapy dogs as a way to treat [some] medical diagnoses. The dogs are important to helping people,” Holly Irby, Oliver’s owner, said.

DOGS BACK ON CAMPUS: Dec. 10 and 11 at 6 p.m. – 8 a.m.