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CHILL: MHS Therapy Dogs Relieve Final Exam Stress at Local Colleges

By Abbey Schoenfeld

As the semester ends and deadlines loom, college students tank up on coffee, pull all-nighters, and describe themselves as agitated, depressed, overwhelmed, and stressed. Counselors at Keene State College and Franklin Pierce University prescribe a dose of puppy love to help relieve these conditions.  Monadnock Humane Society’s Therapy Dog Volunteers filled the ‘script by bringing their dogs to visit this week.

At Franklin Pierce University on Thursday April 28, ten MHS Volunteers brought their dogs to meet students across a two-hour session from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.  “It was wonderful!” said Karen Brown, Associate Dean for Student Success and Advising. “The kids had so many great comments and huge smiles!”  At Keene State College Monday, May 2, nine dog teams were visited by over two hundred students across the two-hour visit.

Therapy dogs aren’t homeless shelter dogs (though many of them were “rescued” from shelters.) Therapy dogs are owned pet dogs who visit to make people feel better. They hold the doggy equivalent of a Master’s Degree. Not only have they passed all the basic dog training skills of sit, stay, and come, but they have taken advanced classes as well.  They have also passed health checks, intensive behavior testing, and done an internship of three Observed Visits before receiving registration as a Therapy Dog. Both dog and handler must adhere to specific rules of conduct from the moment they arrive at the site of their visit, and must renew their registration annually.

“We are thrilled with the increasing number of Therapy Dog teams in the Monadnock region,” says Amee Abel, MHS’ Community Outreach Coordinator.  “There is so much need for dog visits.  As society recognizes the benefits animals provide, mental and physical health benefits, we see more and more opportunities for therapy dog visits. The requests are increasing.”

For more information about Monadnock Humane Society’s therapy dog program, contact Amee Abel at AmeeA@humanecommunity.org or by phone at (603) 352-9011 ext. 135.