COC students ‘paws’ to de-stress during finals
Sereen Banna, left, looks at Ember with Sarah Krantz during Paws for a While put on by the the Student Health & Wellness Center at College of the Canyons on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017. The goal was to relieve some stress from students before finals week. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal
By Christina Cox
Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

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.

Rachel Lerimer and Sirapop Ketmethikarum pet Ember during Paws a While put on by the the Student Health and Wellness Center at College of the Canyons on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017. The goal was to relieve some stress from students before finals week. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

“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.”

Ralph Steger pets his dog, Ras, during Paws a While, an event hosted by the Student and Health Center at College of the Canyons in Valencia on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017. The goal was to relieve some stress from students before finals week. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

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.”

Rachel Larimer pets Ember, the therapy dog, during Paws a While put on by the the Student Health and Wellness Center at College of the Canyons on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017. The goal was to relieve some stress from students before finals week. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

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.”

Ralph Steger gives a piece of food to Rachel Larimer to feed to Ras during Paws a While put on by the the Student Health and Wellness Center at College of the Canyons on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017. The goal was to relieve some stress from students before finals week. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

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.”

ccox@signalscv.com
661-287-5575
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

About the author

Christina Cox

Christina Cox

Christina Cox is a multimedia journalist covering education, community and breaking news in the Santa Clarita Valley. She joined The Signal as a staff writer in August 2016.

Sereen Banna, left, looks at Ember with Sarah Krantz during Paws for a While put on by the the Student Health & Wellness Center at College of the Canyons on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017. The goal was to relieve some stress from students before finals week. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

COC students ‘paws’ to de-stress during finals

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.

Rachel Lerimer and Sirapop Ketmethikarum pet Ember during Paws a While put on by the the Student Health and Wellness Center at College of the Canyons on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017. The goal was to relieve some stress from students before finals week. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

“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.”

Ralph Steger pets his dog, Ras, during Paws a While, an event hosted by the Student and Health Center at College of the Canyons in Valencia on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017. The goal was to relieve some stress from students before finals week. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

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.”

Rachel Larimer pets Ember, the therapy dog, during Paws a While put on by the the Student Health and Wellness Center at College of the Canyons on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017. The goal was to relieve some stress from students before finals week. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

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.”

Ralph Steger gives a piece of food to Rachel Larimer to feed to Ras during Paws a While put on by the the Student Health and Wellness Center at College of the Canyons on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017. The goal was to relieve some stress from students before finals week. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

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.”

ccox@signalscv.com
661-287-5575
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

About the author

Christina Cox

Christina Cox

Christina Cox is a multimedia journalist covering education, community and breaking news in the Santa Clarita Valley. She joined The Signal as a staff writer in August 2016.