Getting Pup Close and Person with Dogs on the Quad | The American Word

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Getting Pup Close and Person with Dogs on the Quad

Lily Coltoff | 10/21/16 2:45pm
| Updated 10/21/16 2:54pm

Sara Carpenter / Photo Collective

Students who were unable to go home over fall break to see their own Fluffy or Sparky were in for a special treat on Wednesday. Dogs on the Quad, an event hosted by Eagle Endowment, gave AU’s community a chance to de-stress from midterms while playing with over a dozen different dogs from around the area. Saagar Gupta, the coordinator of Eagle Endowment, said that, in addition to helping students deal with the stress of midterms, the event was also a great way to engage the community. Eagle Endowment is a fund on campus that provides students with mentorship and grants for community-based outreach projects that bring people together, and as Gupta said, “What better way is there to do that than an event like this one?”

Dogs on the Quad was hosted in partnership with People Animals Love, a volunteer organization in the greater Metro area that brings dogs to nursing homes, hospitals and schools to improve the lives of various individuals through bonds with animals.

Mindy Ford, a librarian on campus, is part of People Animals Love and brought her dog – an eight-year-old golden retriever named Archie – to the event. She said she heard about this event when the university reached out about it and was eager to participate. “I definitely think the dogs help the students [to destress],” said Ford.

Many students echoed this sentiment.”Having an animal around is worth it,” said Kathleen, a first year student in Kogod who attended the event. “They’re really intuitive,” Sam, a first-year from SPA added, citing studies that have come out in recent years showing that pets – especially dogs – are capable of detecting human emotions.

“I always feel when I’m with dogs that I’m concentrating on petting them and not anything else,” said Charlotte, a sophomore majoring in health promotion. This semester, Charlotte is taking a strategies in stress management course, which is where she learned about this event. Her professor, Amanda Rowe, came up with the idea for this event.

According to a Harvard University Health Publication, there are studies dating back to the 1980s indicating that pet – particularly dog – ownership can have tremendous positive impacts on one’s health. It has been shown that having pets can lower one’s blood pressure, decrease the levels of the stress hormone cortisol and elevate the levels of hormones such as oxytocin, which is linked with happiness and relaxation. Additionally, even just being near a companion animal can improve mental and physical health by raising self-esteem and lowering risk of asthma and allergy.

The trend of bringing pets to college campuses is relatively recent but has already been shown to have a massive impact on the mental well-being of students. In fact, AU made the news earlier this year with Kogod’s Audience Dog Program, which lets students in the school practice their presentations in front of a nonbiased and calming audience: puppies. The promotional material for the program states: “Addressing a friendly and nonjudgmental canine can lower blood pressure, decrease stress and elevate mood – perfect for practicing your speech or team presentation.”

During Dogs on the Quad, it was clear that the positive influence of dogs at the school stretches beyond just the School of Business. “I’ve never been happier in my entire life,” one student was overheard saying. Others could be heard commenting, “this is the highlight of my week” and “this is the best thing ever.” There was a smile on every face present, and even after the two-hour event ended, the happiness was still evident on the campus.

For those who missed the event, fear not: there will be another next semester. After the success of today, there will more than likely be support to make sure another Dogs on the Quad event occurs. “I think [animals] are great destressors,” Gupta said as the event drew to a close. “They definitely, definitely help out.”