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Lycoming College students will receive a visit from the Alliance of Therapy Dogs (ATD) on March 27, at 6:30 p.m. in the East Hall Coffee House on the College’s campus. The College has partnered with ATD to bring certified therapy dogs to the school several times a semester, and strategically schedules the visits to occur around naturally stressful times during the academic year.
A growing number of colleges nationwide now offer pet therapy programs to students that need a break from the pressures of school. Many students are living away from home for the first time and appreciate the comfort offered by the therapy dogs. Several members of the Lycoming campus community believed so strongly in the benefits of pet therapy that they formed their own group, the College Canine Committee (CCC), to organize and oversee the program. The CCC was formed during the fall 2016 semester, with the primary goal of helping students to combat stress and deal with anxiety in healthy ways. In addition to spending time with the dogs during each visit, students are given a handout on ways to manage anxiety and stress, and are presented with the opportunity to take part in an act of kindness — such as participating in Love Your Melon’s campaign to write notes of encouragement to pediatric cancer patients.
Andrew Kilpatrick, associate dean of student success and academic services, and founder of the CCC, believes in the long-term positive effect of therapy dogs on Lycoming students. “Having therapy dogs visit campus throughout the semester not only provides opportunities for students to take a break from their studies, but it also engrains in them the importance of finding ways to de-stress,” explained Kilpatrick. “When push comes to shove, a key ingredient for academic success, successful careers, and happy lives is having hobbies and activities that help us to relax.”
Students look forward to the visits from ATD, and seize the opportunity to take a break from their busy schedules.
“It makes our evening when we can play with them, and it’s nice to take a little time out of my stressful schedule to hug a dog,” said Jordan Lynn ’20. “I also miss spending time at home with my own dogs, so visiting with the therapy dogs here is a nice replacement.”
“I always get excited when I hear that the therapy dogs are visiting,” said Matthew Dobrosky ’21. “The dogs provide me with a lot of joy and contentment, even if I’m having a rough day because of tests, homework or personal matters.”
Students received visits from the therapy dogs twice already since the beginning of the spring semester, and will receive three more visits before their summer break.