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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Puppy love helps students wind down

    Wildcats got a chance to relax with some furry friends this Wednesday in the Nugent building as part of Wind Down Wednesday, an event hosted by the Dean of Students Office. Gabriel’s Angels, an animal therapy organization designed to engage children and animals in an effort to enrich their lives, was there with enough dogs to cuddle and lick students’ cares away.

    Kimberly Henderson, a neuroscience freshman, explained how events like these have gotten her closer to dogs.

    “I used to be afraid of dogs,” Henderson said, “and now because of these ‘Puppy Love’ events I’m getting more comfortable with dogs.”

    Gabriel’s Angels requires their dogs to be registered by Pet Partners, an organization that specializes in registering multiple species of therapy animals. This method of animal therapy is becoming more common, as the pleasure of an animal’s presence can reduce stress, slow the heart rate through a remedy that’s fluffy and cuddly.

    Riley, an Australian cattle dog, was enjoying all the cuddling and attention he was getting from students as they stroked his beautiful coat. His handler and owner Ellen Goldman said that Riley along with his other therapy certified pals also participate in a “read to dog program,” where the dogs go to public schools in Tucson and have a child read to them.

    “It really is a confidence booster for kids to read to the dogs,” Goldman said. The dogs offer non-judgmental listeners to help students with their reading skills.

    Augie, a Labrador mix, was another pup that was surrounded by students at the event. Augie’s owner, Jan Hutchinson, is an instructor at Pet Partners and the program director of Gabriel’s Angels. As she handed Augie’s business card out to students, Hutchinson explained that the business cards “are just one of the perks of being a Gabriels’ Angel volunteer.” Other perks these animals enjoy include visiting the children of Casa De Los Niños, and visiting the Wildcats again during finals week toward the end of the semester.

    With stress constantly on the rise among students, Gabriel’s Angels is doing its part in helping students manage their stress. Serena Valle, a higher education graduate student and associate of the Dean of Students, helped organize Wind Down Wednesday. She explained that Wind Down Wednesday’s greatest turnouts have been when the therapy dogs visit.

    “We will be seeing them again,” Valle said, “because we know they are a really big hit.”

    video compiled by Amy Johnson

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