UC Merced’s The Health Education Representatives for Opportunities to Empower Students (H.E.R.O.E.S) has continually had therapy dogs visit campus in order to help students relieve stress a week before finals. Service dogs have recently become more popular, not only with people of disabilities, but in those need of emotional support. There have been several studies that detail the impact emotional support dogs have, such as: significantly reducing anxiety in elders (LE Roux), regulating autonomic stress in women, and lowering both blood pressures and heart rates in pet owners (Allen).

Due to these positive psychological effects, many students visited the therapy dogs from 10:30 am-2:00 on December 7, 2016. Students of all walks of life came to rejoice in the dog visit.  Cecilia Plascencia, a third year psychology major explains, “I came here today to relieve some stress and to have fun and meet great dogs.” With a variety of dogs visiting campus, many students took pictures and praised the dogs while petting them. The students appeared to be stress free and relaxed during the dog visit.  Matthew Jurilla, a third year management and business economics major had a simple explanation as to why he chose to visit the therapy dog session, “I love dogs.” Overall, students largely benefit from the visits with the therapy dogs, especially with finals week rapidly approaching. It is important for students to stay conscious of their mental health, and take moments to relax and de-stress.

Photo Credit: Marcus Fox

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