Dog squad comes to SBCC, cuddling the stress away

Student Nathalie Bergstroem holds Molly, a therapy dog, in front of the Luria Library on Tuesday, Nov. 29, at City College. Bergstroem had a special connection with Molly and was reluctant to set her down.

KATHYVAN TRAN, Channels Staff

West Campus was barking with excitement as students came out to pet a dozen therapy dogs Tuesday afternoon in front of the Luria Library.

The event was coordinated by Elizabeth Bowman, director of the Luria Library, and put on by local non-profit organization All For Animals. It has been a regular de-stressor event at City College towards the end of every semester for the past three years to help make finals week less ruff for students.

“We help the students de-stress, bring smiles and forget about finals for a few minutes,” said Karen Stevens, president of the organization.

The cast of pooches included Molly, a Maltese mix; Buttercup, a golden retriever who is also the mascot dog for Wrangler Jeans; Suzy, a terrier mix; Ellie, a Labrador retriever; Barley, a yellow Labrador; Aye’la, a golden retriever; Bo, a poodle; Olivia “Ollie,” a terrier mix; Lily Rose, a golden retriever; Molly, a beagle mix who belongs to Bowman, and Sadie, a border collie and healer mix. All 12 dogs are certified as therapy dogs.

The owners all volunteer for All For Animals and were decked out in purple t-shirts, boas and sparkle hats, with their dogs wearing matching purple bandanas. The volunteers kept their furry friends leashed as people circled around the dogs to pet them, with Golden Retriever Aye’la camped under the shade to greet students passing in and out of the library entrance.

“I think the students really enjoy dog therapy day,” Stevens said. “I have seen students that have been here the last time and they say they look so forward to this day.”

Isabella Farinelli, communications major, said she has attended every dog therapy event that has been put on by City College.

“I really love dogs,” Farinelli said. “It always helps to pet a dog and take a break—especially pet a dog.”

Research has shown that interacting with pets may decrease levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, and increase endorphins, which are happy hormones. Stress-relief activities may also help to improve memory and concentration.

Bowman said she has seen how students become wound-up, tired and hungry around finals.

“I’m very fully aware how much stress people are feeling,” Bowman said. “We see thousands of students every day. I think I see more students than most teachers.”

Dog therapy is just one of many events that City College is putting on for students the week before finals. Other de-stress events this week include a free pancake breakfast, yoga, meditation, coloring and a stress management workshop.

“I definitely do feel less stressed,” said Nicholas Rodriguez, a culinary arts major. “[This event] brings a positive energy on campus to people.”

Rodriguez said he would like to see this type of event put on with other kinds of animals. Many students also expressed their desire to have an event like this all semester long.

“If we could, we would be here every day,” Stevens said.