| 03.20.2018

A dog gone way to relax — Therapy dogs visit with students at the Idaho Commons


Vandal Health Education in conjunction with Pet Partner volunteers held a dog therapy session in the Idaho Commons Wednesday.

Several kinds of dogs and one cat populated the Whitewater Room in the commons offering comfort and a therapeutic presence for students to sit and pet the animals.

Vandal Health Education intern, Alex Rodriguez said the experience is meant to help with student stress and remind them of the pets they may have at home.

“This is meant to de-stress students, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t miss their dog from home and coming here makes them all just so much happier and forget about those little problems that they were thinking about,” Rodriguez said.Marsha Olsen and her dog, Ollie, are new to volunteering. They visit patients at hospitals, patients at the Avalon Care Center in Pullman and others around the community.

Olsen said she noticed that many people begin to reminisce of their past pets and tell her stories about their dogs when she brings Ollie to visit.

Olsen said dogs unreserved love and lack of judgment are particularly therapeutic to patients.

“I think their unconditional love for people just brings them (patients) into a different reality, where they don’t have to prove themselves, they are just loved unconditionally whether they are old or sick or handicapped,” Olsen said.

The dogs that visited the commons are certified by Pet Partners, a non-profit organization that educates handlers and trains dogs, among eight other species to be registered therapy animals Rodriguez said.

University of Idaho student and ASUI Sen. Jordan Kizer said it was his second time attending a dog therapy session. Kizer said it is nice participate in these events and relax.

“Its nice to be able to interact with an animal that’s just happy to see you that doesn’t care about any of your classes … you can just relax,” Kizer said.

Kizer said physical touch is an integral part of life often neglected in our culture, so approaching a friendly animal and receiving affection is therapeutic.

It was UI student Peyton Lambert’s first time attending a dog therapy session. She said her favorite thing about the dogs is their lovable demeanor and soft fur.

“By enjoying yourself and getting to pet dogs you are just super happy and you leave not as stressed and not as worried about all of the other things on your plate,” Lambert said.

Rene Guggenheimer, a UI student and frequenter of dog therapy, enjoys spending time at the events while away from her pets at home. She loves how friendly and kind dogs are and said visiting the therapy dogs is a soothing experience. Stay tuned on the Vandal Event Calendar for the next dog therapy session.

Brie Slavens can be reached at arg-arts@uidaho.edu

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