Canine camaraderie calms cramming campus

Lucie Rogers, freshman in civil engineering, Danielle Winchester, sophomore in hospitality management, and Hannah Sutherland, freshman in nutritional sciences, pet Jake, a 3-year-old border collie, at the Pet Away Stress event on May 4, 2016, in the Quad. (Shelton Burch | The Collegian)

K-State’s Counseling Services and the Purple Power Animal Welfare Society joined forces to bring students some relief from dead-week anxiety at the Pet Away Stress event in the Quad on Wednesday.

Pet Away Stress started four years ago as a way to raise awareness of the many resources available at Counseling Services, according to Wendy Barnes, outreach coordinator for Counseling Services.

During the event, Barnes passed around leaflets listing many of the resources that Counseling Services offers students on campus, including traditional counseling, weekly presentations on different mental health topics and biofeedback training.

“We have a website, University Life Cafe, that has a bunch of different resources on mental health such as articles and videos,” Ellen McIntosh-Burke, graduate student in drama therapy and graduate assistant for Counseling Services, said. “We also offer two online programs: Academic Anxiety and Stress Management.”

McIntosh-Burke said the “Pet Away Stress” event has garnered consistent positive feedback from students, causing event planners to raise the number of dogs they bring in.

“(During) midterms, we had about a thousand people that came by in the two hours that the dogs were here,” Barnes said.

Eleven dogs of all different breeds, from chihuahua to pit bull, were brought in to help students unwind and enjoy some canine camaraderie.

According to research from the University of Missouri, human and dog interaction helps lower anxiety and depression in people.

Beverly Sterling, foster coordinator for the Purple Power Animal Welfare Society, said it is an opportunity to bring a slice of home for students who have left family pets behind.

“The stress of being away from home, some of them have a family pet that they’ve had to leave behind because they’re living in the dorms,” Sterling said. “This gives them a chance to get that homey feeling and it’s just stress relieving to pet the dogs, and their unconditional love is what makes you feel good in general.”

Hannah Sutherland, freshman in nutritional sciences, said she misses her pet back home and spent several minutes petting a caramel and white dog she called “Jake the State Farm dog.”

“I think it’s awesome,” Sutherland said. “Everybody is so stressed out right now. It’s nice to kind of forget about everything and pet a dog because they’re so happy and they’re carefree, and they kind of make you feel that way for a little while.”