Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

College Canines optimize student mental health

The college canines made their monthly stop on campus last week in Lawrence Hall.

Therapy dogs are crucial for college students’ mental health. When new students move away from their homes, they sometimes leave their pets as well, which can be extremely heart-rending. Playing with a dog, cat or other pet can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, according to Psychology Today. 

Twice every month, Point Park students have the chance to interact with loving therapy dogs. This gives students an opportunity to enjoy some animal love while they are away from home.

Laura Hoffman, a staff clinician at the Point Park counseling center, is involved with the college canine events. 

 “The reason we started doing this was because we heard Point Park had done it before and students have always loved it, so we wanted to bring it back,” Hoffman said. “Plus, this brings students together so they can meet one another and bond in a great way.” 

Several students at the event asked about the possibility of therapy dogs visiting classrooms. Students voiced their opinions on how it would be good for those unable to come to the lobby due to class. No further information was given on this subject.

“I always love the opportunity to come and say hi because they are always so cute and welcoming,” Lilly Benz, a freshman dance major, said. “Dogs are such a huge part of my life and I have two at home, so I was missing them a lot.” Clancy, a five-year old mini goldendoodle, was the dog Lilly interacted with.  

August Carter, a freshman theatre arts major at Point Park, was another dog-lover who had a fun time with the affectionate animals. 

“I’ve really been missing my dog lately, so this is very therapeutic for me,” Carter said. 

Therapy dogs also perform services for other people. According to Dog Training Elite, these services could include going to hospitals, nursing homes or college campuses to provide an overall positive distraction to ailments. The cost to train therapy dogs is expensive, usually ranging from $15,000 to $50,000. There are many ways a dog can be trained, but the most common way is through group classes where multiple dogs can be trained at the same time. It can take one to two years for a therapy dog to be fully trained.  

Ron Frey and his labrador Qpid were one of the canine visitors at the event. Frey has worked with the UPMC Therapy Dog Program with Qpid for 13 years. The duo have contributed to PPU college canine events for one and a half years.

“I enjoy sharing the goodwill of witnessing how Qpid can instantly change people’s demeanor,” Frey said. “It’s a fact that Therapy Dog interaction reduces blood pressure, pulse, and respiration.” 

Animals are substantial stress relievers as well. They relieve students from the pressures of tough schoolwork, classes, anxiety and personal situations, according to PubMed Central. 

Therapy dogs and service dogs have important differences between the two. Therapy dogs are trained to comfort and improve the lives of people they meet in various settings. Service dogs are trained to meet the needs of their handler. Service dogs are also individually trained to perform tasks for the benefit of someone with a disability, according to The Farmer’s Dog. 

“The real reason we do the college canine event is because it benefits student mental health,’ Hoffman said. “Spending time with a pet or animal helps decrease stress and anxiety, and battle depression.” 

College canines will return to the Lawrence Hall lobby on Friday, November 3 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

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