Therapy dogs offer stress relief on campus


Written by Katie Zhang.

During the past few weeks, service puppies from Canine Companions for Independence came on campus to put smiles on students’ faces. The puppies came to the Batcave during lunch, and students came to sit down and play with the dogs.

Senior Romi Miller has a Golden Retriever-Labrador mix service puppy-in-training that visits every Thursday. “I raise her with canine companions and have a book for commands and training tips,” she said.

Miller believes that the service dogs impact both her and the Gunn community positively. “I actually started organizing this after the second day of school [when] something tragic happened to our students on campus, [and] it impacted me a lot,” Miller said. “It’s like a perfect way to forget about things for a little bit and focus on a cute puppy that wants to love you.”

For Miller, having the service dogs is fun and enjoyable. “For some people, they look forward to it every week, so I think it’s really important and really great to just have that kind of outlet,” she said. Wellness Coordinator Lauren Rocha says that having service dogs on campus is a great idea for the Gunn community and provides students with an alternative form of therapy. “I think therapy dogs specically allow students this opportunity to feel warmth and energy and happiness and not feel like they have to necessarily talk to anyone about anything that’s going on,” Rocha said.

When they first arrived on campus, the dogs brought a welcome break. “The first day that they were here, we all kind of took a little break and went outside to see them,” Rocha said. “It’s hard to explain, but they just give you a good energy and kind of make you feel rejuvenated. It’s a good way to get out of the office, and have some love in your life.”

Sophomore Daria Heydari believes that the service dogs brighten her day when she feels worried or upset. “I personally love that they just go around and allow students to pet them because it allows you to take your mind off of all the school work, and it calms you down,” Heydari said. “It’s just such a nice break to take in the middle of the day to get your mind off some school if you feel stressed or have anxiety.”

Due to the excitement of having the service dogs on campus, Heydari feels they should come more often. “I really enjoy having them on the campus because they are super friendly and fun to play with,” Heydari said. “I feel like it’s a really good thing especially at Gunn where we know the community is pretty stressed and a lot of people have anxiety with some tough school work.”