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Pet therapy reduces stress

Kody the Labrador enjoying lots of attention. (Photo credited to Alexander Bershtein).

Alexander Bershtein

Staff Writer

The Millersville University’s Counseling Center has had to create a new schedule for dog therapy for students this semester, and it is still in the works.  These visits are subject to change based on the availability of the provider Tuesdays and Thursday.

For the past few years Willow was on duty for counseling sessions, usually in exchange for tummy-rubs, from Wednesdays and Fridays from mornings until afternoon with lunch a break. However, because of Dr. Baltzer’s retirement, and subsequently the retirement of Millersville’s own personal therapy dog, Willow, Millersville was left to find a new weekly therapy pet for its students.

The new sessions have been taking place in the parlor room of Lyle Hall on first floor, which is not the ground floor as it follows the British flooring system. The official times are 2:30pm-3:30pm on Tuesday, as well as 11am-12pm and 2:30pm-3:30pm on Thursdays. However, these times are not always guaranteed, as the schedules of the owners of the therapy pets become conflicted from time to time. Whereas Willow’s owner worked within the Counseling Center at Lyle, the new therapy pets are not directly part of Millersville University itself, but the non-profit organization K-Pets. This has caused the weekly schedule to be announced the day before or day of the visits, and the Counseling Centers recommends that student check their Instagram page, https://www.instagram.com/thevillecounselingcenter/.

The therapy pets that come during the week include a golden retriever named Kody, a labradoodle name Gabby, a mini-poodle named Abby, and pig named Crosby. Kody usually comes from 11am-12pm on Thursdays, and has been known to just run up and cuddle any newcomers, and if he is scratched right under the next he gets sleepily relaxed, which could keep him in your lap for a good ten minutes. Gabby and Abby usually are around between 2:30pm-3:30pm on Thursdays. Gabby is a VA certified, and is known to take priority in meeting everyone that visits, taking care to circle around and around to give everyone their fair share pet therapy. Abby is crisis certified and is able to detect when someone is in stress; she was going to go into retirement, but because she gets all excited and riled up with chair every time the dog therapy vest is put on her license is going to renewed. Crosby is the therapy pet for Tuesday afternoons, who arrives each time in his stroller to give slobbery kisses, snorting oinks, and possibly a concert with his little piano.

In regards to monthly visits and finals week, those are unaffected. The schedule of every third Tuesday of the month from therapy dogs of Pet Partners is one reason students can go to the library and find that dogs are eating homework. Therapy pets during finals week in the semester is not being removed, as the stress relief is well-documented with high results.

All in all, the current timeframes are not set in stone, but the counseling center is hoping that next semester the visits will be more certain. For the time being, the therapy pets are here to help students when they are stressed, but to know when they are visiting the students themselves will have to be vigilant for videos and pictures of those pets doing cute things on the Millersville University Counseling Center social media page.