Animals can help relieve stress in nearly every situation

By Kayla Lemay

Comment Staff

Rocky plays dead while students, and his dog friend Sadie, look on.
Rocky plays dead while students, and his dog friend Sadie, look on.

If you ask students who have a pet at home, they would tell you that seeing their pet’s excitement whenever they visit is heartwarming and happy.

A lot of people even agree that spending quality time with their pets helps them feel a sense of security and relaxation.

Animals have been studied time and time again when it comes to their stress-relieving abilities.

Getting attacked with kisses from your adorable dog, whether they are a giant St. Bernard or a tiny little Chihuahua, is something that nearly everybody enjoys. And hearing your cat’s purrs as he or she curls up next to you will give somebody a warm and fuzzy feeling inside.

Even those with unorthodox pets such as snakes may feel a sense of comfort when their little reptile curls around them. Those who spend their time with horses also feel that the weight of the world they were feeling will slip away when they spend time with their friendly companions.

How is it that a four-legged creature, or no-legged in the case of some pets, have such an effect over us? How could an animal that was once used only to serve us in the case of hunting, pest control, or transportation could turn into an animal that we use simply for companionship?

Coady Egan, a junior at Bridgewater State University majoring in Cultural Anthropology, partners with Bridgewater State University’s Outreach Education at the end of each semester to bring her two dogs, Rocky and Sadie, to campus to help students with stress from finals.

Egan and her mother, Susan, are both handlers of Rocky, a 12-year-old Bichon Frise mix, and Sadie, a seven-year-old Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen. They are registered through Dog B.O.N.E.S (Building Opportunities for Nurturing and Emotional Support) of Massachusetts.

“I feel that the dogs can help with finals stress because it allows the students to connect on a different level than just hanging out with people,” Egan said. “Dogs are a non-judgmental source of comfort and won’t remind you of the impending exams and essays students have to write.”

Of course, stresses in life aren’t just about final exams and a never-ending stream of papers. Real-world events can bring us down just as easily.

When the Boston Marathon bombings happened a little more than one year ago, the emotional toll on everyone in the community was almost as bad as the physical one. Egan and her two dogs were among the many called to help out the community.

“We were invited to Saks 5th Avenue in Boston. Many of the employees were younger and absolutely devastated after the bombing,” Egan said. “So, we were able to bring some joy into their store by walking through the aisles and visiting the employees. Everyone there was so appreciative that we had come in.”

Not only do pets help with psychological well-being, but Harvard University’s Health Blog said, “Pets have been shown to lower blood pressure, improve recovery from heart disease, and even reduce rates of asthma and allergy in children who grow up with a Fido or a Frisky in the house.”

Pets may be a serious responsibility, but the investment is well worth it when you can come home to a fantastic pet that’s excited to see you.

Even if you don’t have a pet here at school, Outreach Education brings these therapy dogs in during finals to help. Just spending even a few minutes with one of these friendly, loving animals will make you feel a world of a difference.

“When the students visit the dogs, it’s great to see the smiles on their faces when they spend a few minutes with such happy dogs,” Egan said.

 

Kayla Lemay is the General Assignments Editor at The Comment. Follow her on Twitter @klemay123 or email her at klemay@student.bridgew.edu.

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