At Lourdes University, which honors St. Francis of Assisi, it seemed natural that over a hundred smiling students would be walking dogs, sitting on the grass holding puppies, or on their hands and knees smiling while receiving puppy kisses.
In a new setting, where they must study, socialize, get good grades, and even play sports without the support of old friends, family and pets, college students find themselves in a high pressure situation. The first few weeks can be overwhelming, with students trying to meet new expectations and adjust to a new environment. Lacking familiar supports, they may get anxious or “down.” But Lourdes University Student Activities Director Becky Tobias and Kimberly Buckley, Graduate Assistant, found a way to help new students and homeless pets and celebrate World Animal Day.
Buckley and Tobias recruited rescue groups to bring their dogs to Lourdes Commons student apartments to celebrate World Animal Day on Oct. 4. DogWorks and the Pit Crew answered the call. Under a tent on the large lawn, all manner of dogs, from wiggly puppies to dignified mature adult dogs, enjoyed being walked, petted and played with by students who came to relax and enjoy the time with the four-footed cheerleaders.
While freshman Amanda Thomas walked Jen, a small pup, Ashley Moreno, another freshman sat playing with “small dogs.”
Chris Lockwood, a junior in Criminal Justice, was holding a big doberman. “I love dogs,” he said, then added, “I miss my German Shepherd.”
Many said that they missed their dogs. Tobias said that spending time with dogs helps decrease the anxiety of adjusting to a new school and new life, providing a welcome break from studies. It appeared to make the dogs happy as well.
Buckley said that the students were pleased with the opportunity to be around the dogs. “Many of them want to get pets and can’t.” Student feedback was so good that she hopes to have the event next year. “It was a real feel-good thing,” she said. “The students talked about it for some time.”
And the dogs, many of whom had been abandoned at shelters, got needed attention and socialization. It was a win-win situation.
Kris Sulinski, of Sylvania, DogWorks coordinator, and the volunteers who brought the dogs, were delighted with the attention to their dogs and rescue groups. In addition to the students, others came to see the dogs available, resulting in potential adoptions.
by Sharon Blankenship
Sharon Blankenship is a volunteer for DogWorks.