Stress Relief From Some Friendly Companions


With a finals right around the corner, stress has been a haunting forced all around campus. Rushing to get assignments in on time, striving to get the best grades possible and trying not to miss out on extra credit is only some of the main concern for students. It gets extremely difficult trying to juggle all of your problems without falling victim to mini panic attacks and breakdowns.

It isn’t easy finding ways to easily and healthily relieve yourself of some of this stress. Fortunately, Mercy College’s Student Life provides some great solutions. One of which calls on the aid from some furry friends.

This past Tuesday, Student Life held an event with therapy dogs. These dogs are specially trained to provide affection and comfort in environments where stress reigns to be particularlimage2y high. You can typically find them in in schools, work places, hospitals and retirement homes. They go through a six week training process where they work on perfecting basic obedience, meeting and greeting new people and socialization with other dogs and people. At the end of the process, these dogs are tested to determine if they pass their certification.

“Therapy animals have been used for a while to help humans feel a calm sense of connection and validation. They are often used to help students read or overcome some task that makes them feel uncomfortable,” explained Director of Student Life, Ruben Henao.

Students lined up in the Main Hall lobby waiting for the friendly canines to arrive. The weather was extremely rainy and glum, but seeing the first dog walking in instantly brought some sunshine into the students’ hearts.

The first dog to walk in and grab the attention of everyone at the event was fan favorite, “The great and powerful Ozzy.” This dark chocolate coated Newfoundland stands at, give or take, 140 lbs. He is eight and a half years old, which is very long for such a big dog. In his spare time, he enjoys giving the young patients from the children’s hospital rides by pulling them around in a wagon. Accurately enough, he is often referenced to the adorable nursemaid Newfoundland Nana from Peter Pan.

Another friendly companion that stole hearts was the youngest dog, Hobbes.

“He’s a golden retriever but he doesn’t retrieve,” Hobbes’ owner said laughingly. Although playing catch may not be the five year-old’s forte, his people skills sure do make up for it. He grazed by the crowd of students, happily caressing them until he laid down and let the students return the favor.

“Hobbes is here to provide therapy to the students, but it seems like it’s the other way around,” his owner joked again.

Both of these doggy therapists gave hugs and kisses. They were also more than willing to stop and pose for pictures.

“I came in to school feeling annoyed by the rain on top of all my assignments. Going to this event completely changed my mood. These dogs really make a lighthearted and warm environment. For the first time this week, I wasn’t stressing over my upcoming finals. These dogs are a great distraction,” said sophomore Laurie Nash

These dogs definitely gave 20 year old-freshman Rebecca Nye a great feeling a well due her deep connection with animals.

“When I was younger, I used to get teased a lot, so I didn’t have many friends. I spent a lot of time with animals and they were like friends to me. I know something like this is great just because how dogs are. They don’t judge you. They are very loyal. They just love you,” Nye says as she pets Hobbes.

The event was definitely a success. Serious looks turned into laughs and smiles from everyone who passed by.

Student Life aims toward these events at least once a semester on all campuses. They also hold other events geared towards stress relief for students such as “make your own stress ball” and “massage chair” events. Students on the Dobbs Ferry Campus can look forward to the nights of Dec. 15 and 16, where student life will have “Finals Late Night Breakfast” from 9:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Everyone knows how demanding the end of the year can be for students. It is really easy to get caught up in the paranoia and anxiety that it brings. This feeling is commonly shared among many on campus. Haneo is aware of this and knows that events like these are extremely beneficial.

“These events are important for mental and physical wellness to allow students the opportunity to break away from their studies to focus on themselves.”