Dogs De-stress Students During Final Exams
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Dogs De-stress Students During Final Exams

Throngs of students were all smiles as they crowded around a group of cuddly black dogs at the Barone Campus Center this past Tuesday.

It was a win, win; rescued dogs from Little Black Dog Rescue (LBDR) got some TLC while Fairfield students de-stressed with a dog during finals week.

“We look for all kinds of ways to support our students’ wellbeing and petting—believe it or not—there is sort of a biological basis for petting that can actually help reduced your heart rate, blood pressure and has a neurobiological response in the body,” said Phyllis Weihs, assistant director of Counseling and Psychological Services at Fairfield, about the particular way dogs can be key to reducing student stress.

Little Blog Dog Rescue is a Connecticut non-profit led by founder Amy Scarella who rescues abandoned black dogs from the southern U.S. and Puerto Rico where they are cast aside in animal shelters for superstitious and other reasons.

Kayley Nugent ’16, a dog lover who lives with her senior classmates on the beach, is an intern with LBDR and was one of the Fairfield connections that helped get the dogs on campus.

“I started a volunteer program with a lot of Fairfield seniors because they have their own houses [at the beach] that help take on the rescue dogs as foster parents or as day visitors. Students really miss their pets, so this really helps,” Nugent said as she held a red leash attached to “Sugar,” a Labrador, hound mix.‌‌

During midterm and final examination periods Counseling and Psychological Services offers a number of events and stress-busting tactics to inspire relaxation for students like massage therapy, aroma therapy and meditation exercises. In addition, they give sticky “bio-dots” that adhere to students’ wrists so they can help monitor and deal with their stress. On a weekly and monthly basis, there are numerous drop-in style services that students can utilize like group therapy, individual therapy, and other educational programs.

Weihs also said she would advise parents to encourage their children to seek out therapy. 

“Oftentimes, when students are stressed or emotional they call their parents,” Weihs continued,  “Sometimes talking to someone confidentially who is in the environment can really help them. It also allows the parent to be the parent, not the therapist.”

Pictured at right: Little Black Dog Rescue, Sugar, a Labrador, hound mix.

See photos from the dog therapy event.

Learn more about Counseling and Psychological Services at Fairfield.

Watch the News12 Connecticut feature

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Last modified: Fri, 06 May 2016 08:55:37 EDT

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