Stress relief: one puppy hug at a time

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The end of the semester is terrifyingly soon, and the pressure is on. Sometimes it’s hard to support others when you’re stressed yourself, but furry friends may be the unapologetic care you’ve been looking for. On April 4, the pups Sage and Cody were happy to be a shoulder to lean on.

Dog therapy is an event hosted by BroncoFit on campus to give students healthy ways to manage stress. Last Thursday, they hosted their third event this semester all while receiving the same positive feedback.

“The motivation is just to kind of provide a positive stress relief for students. Lots of people don’t realize that they needed it,” said BroncoFit peer educator Kelly Reilly.

Sage, a fluffy golden retriever with a passion for hiking and hugs, was excited to see students on the Quad. Cody, a small Maltese-mix with a big heart was eager to make every stranger a friend. Their owners were just as thrilled to make the lives of those who stopped by a little brighter.

Pat Gieseke, a volunteer with Helping Idaho Dogs elaborated on what the organization does, and how most everyone can benefit from dog therapy.

“We have humane education, where we go out and teach people about dogs and dog safety. We go out to high schools and middle schools during testing. And the kids love it,” Gieseke said.

Jennifer Rankin, a seasoned volunteer, commented on the general misunderstanding about the role of therapy animals, and that there are still rewards to reap for everyone involved.

“I think it (dog therapy) is a conversation starter,” Rankin said. “For example, if you’re in a nursing home, those people will tell you about their dog. When kids read, sometimes they won’t like to read out loud. But if there’s a dog, they’ll read to the dog. These guys are just to bring comfort and love. But it’s also fun for us because we get to hang out with other people.”

Along with education, petting dogs is scientifically proven to relieve stress.

“It’s not only people with health problems who reap the benefits. Family members and friends who sit in on animal visits say they feel better, too. Pet therapy is also being used in non-medical settings, such as universities and community programs, to help people deal with anxiety and stress,” The Mayo Clinic cites.

Student Arald Sopoti was strolling down the quad when he noticed the friendly faces of Sage and Cody at the BroncoFit booth. As a former Resident Assistant that had an exam coming up, he understood the value of taking care of yourself in stressful times.

“I feel calm. Relaxed,” Sopoti said. “(Boise State) does a fairly good job, especially during midterms and finals.”

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