The emotional therapy animals are trained to be excessively petted, reveling in the attention. (Matthew Gozzip/Union Weekly)
Dogs provide stress relief for students
By Matthew Gozzip Staff Writer
Twelve weeks into the spring semester and hope is waning. The once whisk powerwalk to class has now become a dreary drag of the soul. Many tell you the light is at the end of the tunnel but so are finals and projects. The metaphorical ball and chain gets heavier…and fuzzier. Turns out it’s a dog, panting for your love and affection.
On Wednesday, this doggy daydream became a reality for students as Disabled Student Services organized some puppy relief time at the Brotman Hall Fountain in an effort to de-stress students on campus. The event has been a part of an ongoing effort to relieve student apprehension through play therapy with emotional support dogs.
Rachel Mahgerefteh, coordinator of service and emotional support animals for the DSS, created the program a year and a half ago in the hopes of increasing student wellness.
“So many students were not getting emotional support animals and were going through tough time,” Mahgerefteh said. “The animals today are therapy animals and are here to just provide temporary relief in the middle of hectic academic semesters”.
Bamse the dog enjoys the attention of students while his friend looks on. (Matthew Gozzip/Union Weekly)
The dogs were provided by BARK, an organization that helps enhance reading skills within children by allowing them to read to dogs in a more upbeat atmosphere. Since 2007, Josie and her son, Christopher, have been gathering volunteer dogs to not only assist in schools but also hospitals, veterans facilities, senior centers and college campuses like CSULB. BARK has expanded to over 160 teams in the Greater Los Angeles area and continues to grow today.
In addition to providing the occasional therapy sessions on, Mahgerefteh and DSS aim to provide therapy animals on a more personal and consistent basis for students with a certain medical diagnosis. More specially trained support animals are provided to students that have an ailment that could be alleviated through contact with a canine. Once they obtain a cleared referral, Maghgerefteh and Support Services gets into contact with the housing offices and professors on campus to allow students to have support animals with them frequently.
The emotional support dogs will be on campus at the Clothesline Project later this week if you missed the chance to pet and cuddle, and will be on campus again throughout semester.