As the last bell of the day rang on Monday, December 19, dozens of students swarmed the CJ library for a chance to interact with dogs from 4 Paws for Ability. Three dogs from the organization were at the school to help relieve stress from exams.
"I attended a conference in the fall that discussed pets being a tool for facilitating communication with students and for reducing stress and anxiety," said counselor Susan Eichenauer, who organized the stress relief event. "As December 1 college deadlines approached, a very stressful time in any school counseling office, I decided to test this out by creating a pet bulletin board. Students and staff eagerly shared pictures of their dogs/cats for display and when talking about their pets I noticed them smile, laugh and share funny stories. Students also would sometimes stop in and show their pet picture to their friends and again I noticed they were smiling and laughing doing so. I also read an article that spoke about colleges using service dogs to address mental illness, stress, and homesickness for new students. In high school, exams are such stressful times for both students and faculty so it seemed like the best time to bring in the dogs."
Madison Grothouse '18 and Jacob Fischer '18 came to see the dogs after their exams and shared that they also volunteer with 4 Paws for Ability.
Fischer proclaimed, "Having dogs after exams?... What's better than seeing three puppies after school? After having three exams in one day and then seeing puppies, it releases a lot of stress."
Grothouse agreed, "It makes me feel happy and more calm because they're fun to play with and it releases stress from thinking about exams. It helps a lot."
Sarah Obach Wrona '94 has a service dog at her home and is a volunteer with 4 Paws for Ability. She said she was happy to come back to her Alma Mater for a good cause.
"So many students said, 'Oh, this is a great idea, this is the best day ever, this is so wonderful,' after taking exams," Wrona shared. "So many kids said thank you and loved petting the dogs."
Eichenauer said having therapy dogs at the school to relieve stress is something she hopes to continue in the future.
"The dogs did everything and more that I hoped they would," Eichenauer noted. "Students and adults alike were smiling, laughing and relaxing during one of the most stressful times in a high school."
Posted December 28, 2016