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Puppies on Campus Relieve Student Stress

It was mid-semester, the 2.5 grading period was just around the corner, and students' stress levels were palpable. But for a few hours one morning in late March, everything was chill, as students were greeted on the way into school by several service dogs from Canine Companions for Independence.

Four dogs and their trainers spent the first hour of the day on campus. Smiles spread across students' faces, heart rates declined, and tensions eased as students entered school and cuddled with the dogs before heading off to their first-period classes. 

Jana Weaver P '21 connected Mid-Pen to Canine Companions, a non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly-trained assistance dogs, but Mid-Pen has been welcoming dogs on campus for at least the past eight years.

“The therapeutic value of pets and animals on school campuses is widely known these days, as more and more institutions are supporting the research that has been done,” says school counselor Wendi Wells. Shortly after joining Mid-Pen in 2011, she started bringing Isla, a boxer mix, to school a several times a month as her counseling sidekick. 

Since then, the school has had other dogs and animals on campus from time to time, but this year there have been more than ever before, including the daily presence of Gogo, an easy-going Pekingese belonging to Associate Director of Admissions Jamie Schiessler. Students often stop by the admissions office between classes to give Gogo, who is always happy for the attention, a quick hug. “Spending time with animals clearly reduces anxiety and lifts everyone’s mood,” observes Wendi. “I say the more the merrier!”

And at exam time, when there are papers due and tests to be taken, it is always good to be reminded that happiness really is a warm puppy.