Dominican College’s Office of Special Services enlisted the volunteer services of Hudson Valley Visiting Pets program (HVVP) in a “Paws For Fun” to help students reduce stress during exam week. Realizing the final weeks of the semester are stressful to students who have papers due, presentations to make and final exams to take, the Office of Special Services has been participating in a pet therapy program. HVVP is made up of volunteers who donate their time with their pets to visit local hospitals, schools, nursing homes and juvenile detention facilities to reduce stress and bring happiness through physical and emotional contact.
The animals and their handlers obtain permission to take part in the Hudson Valley Visiting Pets program after extensive training. According to the HVVP website, pets are evaluated individually to be selected as therapy volunteers. To be chosen the animals must be “calm, quiet, friendly and healthy”; the pets must also travel well, recover quickly from distractions and they must behave well around people. Hudson Valley Visiting Pets includes domestic pets: dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and domesticated farm animals. The HVVP program is affiliated with Delta Society, which screens and provides liability insurance for volunteers and their pets.
Having physical and emotional contact with pets makes people happy. For this reason, the College’s Office of Special Services offers the opportunity for students to interact with the therapy dogs to decompress before exam week. This semester’s “Paws For Fun” activity was held in the Library’s Learning Commons on Tuesday, May 5th, and was a huge success. Therapy dogs, Victoria, an adorable Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and Moon, an intelligent and energetic Treeing Walker Coonhound, spent a couple of hours with students, staff and faculty. Victoria, the pretty Blenheim-colored Spaniel, with her owner, Fran, entertained the students by being an exemplary lap dog, allowing students to brush her and hold her in their laps. Moon, the clever Coonhound, with her owner, Dolores, showed students her excellent training tricks: bowing, rolling over and her favorite, sitting patiently waiting for treats. The dogs brought smiles to the faces of many students who left The Sullivan Library Learning Commons a little happier, and hopefully less stressed, than when they started their busy day.
The Office of Special Services and the Sullivan Library would like to thank all the students who participated in “Paws For Fun” and the Hudson Valley Visiting Pets program, especially Fran and Dolores, who generously gave of their time to offer the pet-a-pup activity to the students for a few hours to de-stress.