With finals just a few days away, Allan Hancock College students, and even staff, received the perfect medicine to survive the stress. The relief came with a fur coat, a wet nose and a wagging tail. About 10 therapy dogs, ranging in size from a golden retriever to a cockapoo, were hanging out in front of the library in the middle of the Hancock campus on Wednesday.
“If I’m rating on a scale from one to 10, this is 100,” said Gold Vang, a psychology major at Hancock. “I hope they have a day with therapy dogs on campus every semester because it really helps.”
The cute ambassadors were thanks to a joint effort by the college’s Associated Student Body Government (ASBG) and the President’s Leadership Academy (PLA). Each year, about 30 faculty, staff and administrators are selected as an opportunity to learn more about each other and how they can work together to become better leaders. The mission of this year’s PLA class is to create activities centered around the six factors of student success: directed, engaged, valued, focused, nurtured and connected. Research shows students who experience some form of all six factors are more motivated and successful.
“Every month, the leadership academy has a theme, said “Mayte Solis, a basic skills coordinator and member of the President’s Leadership Academy. “This month, we are focusing on making students and staff feel nurtured. We want our students to feel the college is helping them succeed.”
Scientific studies show that canine interaction increases a human’s level of oxytocin, a hormone that reduces anxiety and blood pressure. Petting a dog or caring for a pet helps people become less frightened, more secure and diverts their attention away from their own fears or anxieties. A quick poll of the students in front of the library supported the studies.
“I was just stressing out over an essay that was due,” said Gabriela Palacios, an art major. “I feel so much more relaxed now. Dogs mean love. They respond to people and bring so much job and happiness.”
Students said the face-to-fur interaction helped to clear their heads during a stressful period.
“This is a great way to bring a smile to student’s face and relax. It makes my day,” said Iliana Rosales, a liberal studies major, and the director of student outreach of ASBG. “Bringing these dogs to campus is also important because it shows students the college cares about us.”
After seeing hundreds of smiling faces, organizers said they would look into making the therapy dog visits a tradition every semester.