On Thursday, Aug. 30, Sonoma State University welcomed back our four-legged friends in the Seawolf Plaza to help de-stress students. It can be difficult for many people to get back into the swing of things at the beginning of the semester, so bringing therapy dogs to campus helps bring joy and comfort. De-stress with Dogs is one of the many events that Sonoma State’s very own Student Health Advisory Committee puts on every month. This student group helps identify campus health-related issues and strongly believe in the wellbeing of our campus community.
“What we’re trying to accomplish with this event is to de-stress the community and we found that therapy dogs are a great way to do that,” Cameron Kaiser, a member of this committee said. “Everyone loves it and it gives students a nice break from the stress of classes, considering the first two weeks can be pretty hard.”
Shannon McEntee, another member of Student Health Advisory Committee contributed, “We help bring therapy dogs to campus to help provide mental health relief and to bring up the morale of campus, too.”
The dogs are provided by the local non-profit organization, 4Paws. The Student Health Advisory Committee works with this organization to coordinate dates for them to come to campus. This group of individuals and their loving dogs visit healthcare and educational facilities all throughout the Bay Area. Their mission statement from their website is to “ensure and enrich the relationship between people and their pets through education and service to the community.” They offer five different programs for dog owners to attend and become a part of their team: social therapy, learning, nutrition, wellness, and Readers of the Pack, which invites children who have trouble reading aloud to read to the dogs with no pressure. It makes the children feel more comfortable and it helps improve their literacy skills.
Many owners and their dogs showed up to the event on Thursday and enjoyed meeting the students. There were all types of breeds including Corgis, golden retrievers, and even a very tall Greyhound. One dog that stood out in particular was Misty, a very soft puppy who appeared to be a golden retriever and corgi mix.
Misty’s owner, James Shafner, adopted her from the pound six years ago. Misty has been in the 4Paws program for five years. He knew she was meant to be a therapy dog when he witnessed her comforting a little girl who was crying. Misty frequents all across the Bay Area. She goes to kindergarten classrooms where students get to read to her, summer camp for blind youth, children’s hospitals, and even the Ronald McDonald House in San Francisco.
“When I adopted Misty, she was very overweight and her previous owner had just passed away. She wasn’t in a good place, but now she’s happier than ever,” James said. “She loves coming to Sonoma State because she gets so much attention here!”
The students had a great time at the event judging from all the smiles and ooh-ing and aah-ing. Everyone was showing off the dogs on their Snapchat stories.
“My favorite dog I met today has to be Cooper, a black-and-white Cavalier King Charles. He’s such a sweetheart,” said junior Erin Hogan. “I love how this event allows us students to sit back and relax and pet some dogs. It’s really nice, especially because it’s hard to be away from my dogs at home.”
The next Doggy Play Day is coming up on Sept. 22nd on the Sauvignon Lawn.