Fluffy, four-legged friends brought smiles and support to students at College of the Canyons (COC) Wednesday during one of the busiest times of the year.
The annual “Paws for A While” event brought two therapy dogs to the college’s Valencia campus to help students decompress before finishing term papers and studying for final exams.
“We try to do it right before finals. We’re just trying to de-stress our students,” said Larry Schallert, assistant director of COC’s Student Health and Wellness/Mental Health program. “We’ll see students sit there and pet the dogs for a while.”
The Paws for A While event began about three years ago when a student approached Schallert and the Student Health and Wellness Center about bringing the program on campus.
“She wrote up a whole proposal and gave us the numbers of who we needed to call and what we needed and it stuck,” Schallert said. “The name came from the student who started the program three and a half years ago.”
Now, the annual event is something students look forward to during the busiest times of each semester.
“I’m just interested about therapy dogs and what kind of service they do,” said COC student Cameron Miana, 18, who stopped to greet the dogs. “(The dog) was really comfortable.”
Sirapop Ketmethikarum was pointed in the direction of the therapy dogs by the health center when he was walking by the flagpole Wednesday morning.
“(I was) just checking it out, have nothing to do,” the 22-year-old said. “When I get to play with them, I feel happy.”
The two dogs also seemed to enjoy the attention from passersby as turned their heads to visitors and laid down peacefully on the ground.
“The dogs are really open to being petted,” Schallert said. “And the handlers are highly-trained and they’re as mellow as the dogs are.”
Schallert said the program also helps students clear their heads and relieve some stress, which helps them perform better on tests later on.
“Stress can make it more difficult to access the part of your brain that has the information you need to do well on tests,” he said. “What’s really interesting is we’ll have students come back and say you saved my life, I calmed down and got an A on my test.”
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_