Puppies; good for the soul

A Castleton student spends quality time with a therapy dog in the library. Photo by Olivia Maher. 

There truly is nothing like interacting with a dog to brighten your day – and the dog doesn’t even have to be yours.

As long as that dog is leaning in to be pet, licking your face and showing you true unconditional love, you will feel it, and your day will be brought to a new level.

It’s scientifically proven.

“Playing with your pet increases the levels of the feel-good chemicals serotonin and dopamine in your brain. Maybe that’s why people recover from a stressful situation more quickly when they’re with their pets,” according to an animal therapy article on humana.com.

College can be a tough place sometimes. Students go through serious stages of stress due to schoolwork, depression from missing people or pets, break-ups, and countless other not-so-good situations that can bring them down.

However, these issues vanish upon seeing a dog, and even more so if it’s a puppy.

“For me there aren’t any drawbacks of having a dog at school” said senior David Mahoney. “Gunner (his dog) has so many different talents and he’s super smart so having him at my house is awesome,” he said.

Mahoney’s chocolate lab is young so it needs lots of exercise, which is also good for him.  A study by the National Institute of Health found that people with dogs are generally more active because they are not only forced to bring their dog outside but it also gives them motivation to be active whether they take their dog for a walk, hike, bike ride or swim.

“Since my dog is young, he has a ton of energy.  I take him outside and throw the toy for him a few times a day,” said Mahoney.

Having a dog is a good way to teach a college-aged person responsibility, because it is pretty much like having a child.

“You can’t leave food out. He will eat anything we leave out, and I mean anything,” senior Lauren Reck said with a slight laugh, talking about her 1-year-old rescue dog named Bodie.

Reck is a nursing student at Castleton, so with all the stress of being involved in such an intense major, having a dog helps to cope with that.

“It’s so nice coming home from a long shift at the hospital to a dog. It’s hard not to smile and pet him when I come home from work,” Reck said.

And in a college town, dog sitters are abundant when needed.

“It’s not very hard to find someone to watch your dog around here because everyone wants a dog,” Reck said.

It’s usually the people who left dogs at home with their parents who are the most emotional when you raise the subject. Many say they miss their dogs as much, sometimes more, than people in their lives.

“When I get into my car to drive home the first thing I think about is my two dogs,” said graduate student Connor Kelly. “I get so excited to see them and can’t wait for them to freak out when I get home.”

Not only are dogs the best greeters, they’re also the first greeters whenever someone walks through the door.

“My dogs come running to the door the second I get home,” Kelly said. “I’m petting them for a few minutes before I even say hi to my parents and my brother.”

But it’s not only the humans who get sad when they become separated from their pets. Although it is proven that dogs cannot tell time, they can certainly tell when people in their house leave. They suffer from separation anxiety when their owners leave them.

An article on petplace.com states dogs may become destructive when left alone for an extended period of time, but contrary to popular belief, it’s not because the dog is upset or mad that it’s owner left, it has to do with anxiety. Dogs often become anxious when their owner leaves, and with nothing to do they turn to destroying their owner’s stuff.

Some dogs, like Castleton student Zach Dow’s, have other ways of dealing with when one of their favorite people leave the house for an extended period of time.

“My dog gets stressed out and gains weight when I’m at school,” Dow said with a chuckle and a grin on his face.

Students get dogs while at college for a variety of reasons from missing their dog at home to just wanting another friend.

Or, just because!

“I didn’t get Gunner because I was missing my dog at home, I just wanted a dog, Mahoney said. “I don’t regret the decision at all, I like him better than I like my friends” he said with a laugh.

For Reck, though, the separation from her dog at home led to the decision.

“I was really missing Augie (Reck’s dog at home) when I started thinking about getting a dog. I knew getting a dog here wouldn’t replace my dog at home, but it helped out a lot,” Reck said.

People who have grown up with dogs usually tend to show their soft side when a dog appears in their field of vision. When a student leaves for school and doesn’t see their dog for a while, interacting with one helps to cope with the sadness of not having their dog in their life.

“I’ve had dogs forever,” senior Ryder Hathaway said. “Two golden retrievers, and my current chocolate lab.”

Hathaway is notorious for Snapchatting everything he sees, and he doesn’t pass up the opportunity to take a video of a dog, usually titled, “woofer” for his Snapchat story.

“I just love seeing dogs,” Hathaway  said. “Whether my day is going good or bad, seeing a dog only makes it better.”

On Thursdays at 1 o’clock, you can solve your dog-deprived issues by attending the therapy dogs session in the student lounge in the library.

“I knew this was a good idea,” Abbie Batchelder said with a close-to-crying smile on her face as soon as she saw the two yellow labs that were waiting in the library to brighten student’s days.

Every student in the room was on the ground, rolling around with the dogs, and enjoying every moment of being smothered by the dogs. Everyone there, the dog’s owners included, was having a good time and enjoying the session.

“I’m definitely coming again,”  Sophomore Kianna Frost said with a smile. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous post Alums help health majors find work after graduation
Next post Fitness club comes to Four Corners