This semester, University of Connecticut Student Health and Wellness (SHaW) is offering social media updated on weekly pet therapy sessions, according to Colleen Atkinson of SHaW.
SHaW posts updates about the whereabouts of pet therapy sessions one to two days in advance on their social media, according to their website. New this semester, SHaW will also be working with other on-campus partners, such as the Rainbow Center, Benton and the UConn School of Business who will also advertise the dates for pet therapy sessions.
“Besides our website, we do post it on social media, so we have Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and we will post it there usually a day or two before the event,” Atkinson said. “This semester, since we are partnering with so many other campus partners, those campus partners are also promoting it on their websites and social media.”
Pet therapy sessions will be taking place at least once a week during the spring semester. While the location may change often, on the first Thursday of every month there will be a session at the Benton in the evening.
“You are not typically gonna find it in the same place two weeks in a row, so following the website and our social media to know where it is, is going to be helpful,” Atkinson said. “We will also be trying to find locations in central campus.”
Two volunteer organizations, Tails of Joy and Healers with Halos, provide the animals for the pet therapy sessions, Atkinson said. Profiles of the 11 therapy dogs—which details each of their names, ages, breeds, handlers, and fun facts—can be found on the SHaW website.
For example, the website profiles a 4-year-old Newfoundland named Wrigley, whose favorite toy is a plush fish and loves to eat cheddar cheese and pineapple. It also details his experience competing in “obedience” at the American Kennel Club, where he holds a title at the beginner’s level.
Research has proven pet therapy is an efficient way to reduce both stress and blood pressure, so students who are feeling stressed or homesick may find it helpful to come to a session, Atkinson said.
“It is a proven stress reduction method, so research shows if you are interacting with an animal, petting it actually lowers blood pressure and reduces stress, making it a nice way to take a few minutes out of your day and reconnect…and also disconnect with what’s going on in their daily life,” Atkinson said.
Katie Hooker, a second-semester molecular and cell biology major, appreciated that pet therapy sessions were easy to access during finals week last semester.
“I liked that the pets were available in a popular spot on campus during a stressful time of year,” Hooker said.
Amanda Kilyk is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.