Doggy Play Day relieves student stress

Students laughed, smiled, shrieked and gasped for air at the Doggy Play Day on Saturday. 

“Oh puppies” “Look at that one” “They are so cute,” were just some of the things one overheard while walking from canopy to canopy. 

Doggy Play Day was held by the Student Health Activities Club at noon on the south lawn of Sauvignon. Last year the club hosted a Doggy Play Day only once, but the aim is to hold it at least two times this year. 

Shauna Fassino and Austin Hartford, leaders of Student Health Activities, were both present at the event and were all smiles. They both expressed how much fun they were having at the event, and were pleased to see the turnout.

“About 400 people came throughout the day. We expected around 250 to show up because last year we had about 150, but it is great that we had so many people come through,” said Hartford. 

Fassino was excited about this event and would love to bring back Doggy Play Day later on in the year. She is also excited about upcoming events, such as HIV awareness day.

4Paws and Paws for Healing are the two organizations that agreed to come to Sonoma State University for this event and brought with them a plethora of dogs. Labradors, golden retrievers, spaniel cockers, greyhounds and corgis are just a few types of breeds that were at the event. 

Michelle Lua was at the event and came with her greyhound, Whitney, a retired racing dog. Lua has volunteered at 4Paws with Whitney since 2009. Lua has spent majority of her volunteering time at schools and hospitals. 

“I love how much Whitney enjoys this event,” said Lua. “I love talking to people about dogs, talking to people about people or you could talk about nothing at all. This is a mellow event and it helps students who miss their dogs back at home cope.” 

4Paws has a few programs but the one Lua and Whitney participate most often is the Readers of the Pack. In this program, kids get a chance to work directly with the dogs. Whitney helps students become more confident readers by listening intently while the student reads out loud. 

“Dogs do not correct grammar mistakes. They cannot judge and kids feel comfortable reading out loud to them. Sometimes I am in the room and other times I am not,” said Lua. 

Lua hopes on building a strong relationship with Sonoma State and would like to someday have animals in the Student Health center for therapy. 

“It could be hard for a new student to be away from home and having the dogs there would help lift that anxiety of attending a new campus and dealing with health related concerns,” said Lua. “We are always looking for new volunteers with dogs” 

For college students that have worked hard managing the busy life, being able to play with the dogs is a great way to relieve stress.. 

The organization is always looking for great people with a friendly dog that is happy to receive the extensive amount of attention. Dogs like Whitney had as much as eight people around her at the event, all trying to pet her body and get her attention, but Lua said she loves it.