Students de-stress with visit from shelter dogs

Music education sophomore Megan McMahon, right, music education senior Taylor Nicholson, center, and music education freshman Katie Safa, left, pet the dog Hank at Paws for Stress Relief at the Study in Lexington, Ky., on Thursday, December 6, 2012. Photo by Tessa Lighty | Staff

By Morgan Eads
meads@kykernel.com

Students gathered in Commons to enjoy the company of three furry, four-legged friends on Thursday.

Dogs from the Lexington Humane society, Brandie, Muddy Buddy and Hank, were there not only to enjoy the company of the students, but also to help them during a stressful time in the semester.

University Health Service hosted the event to quell the rising anxiety students are experiencing in the shadow of the coming finals week.

In addition to the dogs, there were puzzles, crafts and massages being offered to students who stopped in between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Brandy Reeves, health education coordinator for UHS, said the turnout was looking good around 11 a.m.

“We’ve had almost 30 students so far. That’s pretty good considering we’ve been here for a little more than an hour,” she said.

Biology junior Casey Moffitt said the event was a good break from preparing for finals.

“It’s focused on something rather than just doing nothing,” she said. “It’s a good outlet, plus I love puzzles.”

Studio art sophomore Leah Hatch said she was impressed with the dogs and thought they were a good way to relieve the tension.

“Dogs are fun and very friendly,” she said. “I don’t think students on campus really have an opportunity to be around animals much.”

As the dogs chewed on toys, students sat on the floor and petted them.

The students were not the only ones who enjoyed the program, according to Carrie Kenady, volunteer coordinator at the Lexington Humane Society.

“The dogs are loving the attention,” she said. “They are as happy as can be.”

Muddy Buddy, a flat-coated retriever mix, actually snoozed as students sat and stroked his black fur.

Some students showed some wariness with pit bull mix Brandie, Lexington Humane Society volunteer Karen Watz said.

“People have preconceived notions about pit bulls,” she said. “But she (Brandie) is so sweet.”

Kenady mentioned some students were reminded of home while spending time with the dogs.

“A lot have talked about how it makes them miss their dogs at home,” she said.

When asked why these three dogs in particular were chosen out of around 100 dogs in the shelter to visit UK, Kenady cited their demeanor.

“We knew all of these dogs would get along really well and just be fun for the students to interact with,” she said.

For students and canines alike, this was a nice change of pace, Watz said.

“They (the dogs) stay locked up in their cages so much, they were kind of wild when we first arrived,” she said. “They were really excited.”