York College students ‘paws to relax’ and distress with dogs

By Kendra Jones

York College students took a moment to “paws and relax” on the Main Campus Lawn from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6.

Keystone Pet Enhanced Therapy Services (KPETS) brought in multiple dogs, both large and small for students to play with as a way of relieving stress.

Debbie Dusthimer and her husband own two of the dogs seen at the event. KPETS visit hospitals, nursing homes and the Children’s Advocacy Center where children testify against abusers. These dogs can also be seen on the sidelines of the York College basketball games. Children in schools with learning disabilities are given the chance to read to the dogs. Dusthimer said that the kids like this because the dogs can’t tell them when they’ve mispronounced a word.

To be qualified as a KPETS dog, one must be very social with both humans and dogs and go through a program where the following five commands are taught: sit, stay, come, down and leave it.

Many students took advantage of this K-9 therapy; Hannah Schell, a freshman sport management major, is allergic to dogs, but still came out to participate in the furry fun.

Cole Fenton, a sophomore recreational administration major, experienced his first stress relieving event involving dogs. He was drawn in because he was missing his dog. Fenton lives on campus and has a Labrador retriever at home. This event made him even more excited to go home and see her this weekend. He thinks that having dogs come onto campus is a great idea because “it makes everyone more comfortable and a little bit more happy.”

Fenton said that while students were petting the dogs, they talked about their dogs at home or if they have recently lost a dog, and this event brought out their happy memories.

While many students were attracted to Callie, a the 150-pound Newfoundland, Cassie, a retired racing greyhound, spotted people out and leaned up against students, giving them “hugs”.

“People are smiling; people are happy. It [the event] brings out a side of people that they haven’t been able to express for a while,” said Fenton.


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