Williston, N.D., May 7th -As finals week approaches at Williston State College, Counseling Services and Student Life have partnered to help combat any additional stress by bringing in two service dogs to help boost moods and reduce tensions for students. May 12th will kick off this campaign, as trainers will introduce the dogs to the school and showcase their capabilities. The presentation will begin at 10:30 in the Teton Lounge and these heart-warming animals will be available in the Student Life area Tuesday, May 12th from 10:30 to 4pm and Wednesday, May 13th from 9am until 4pm for students to pet, hug or cuddle.
The initial idea arose as someone mentioned a puppy room on-campus. Though not realistic or feasible, it triggered the idea for finals week. "I did some research on other colleges bringing in therapy dogs for students to interact with during finals and found that it is actually quite common," Leah Hoffman, WSC Mental Health Counselor explained. "Finals is a stressful time for students, and sometimes we need to get creative with ways to relieve the stress. It's hard not to smile and relax a bit when you see one of these happy, eager-to-please animals."
Students are encouraged to come cuddle or play for 10 to 15 minutes on their own or with a friend. "I always am pushing the importance of self-care onto students when they are feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Finding time for self-care during finals week can be difficult, so if playing with a dog for a few minutes will help, that is what we will do," Hoffman explained.
Both dogs come from the top-of-the-line training facility, Service Dogs For America, located in Jud, North Dakota. "Depending on the dog, their abilities range from opening doors, picking up dropped objects, providing comfort for PTSD, detecting low blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, and anticipating and reacting to seizures," Hoffman explained. "They are well trained and frequently visit hospitals, elementary schools, nursing homes, and libraries to provide comfort." Both dogs that will be on campus have completed their training; they are currently awaiting their new owners. Service Dogs for America has generously offered this service for free, but Williston State College will be donating to their agency for their time and efforts and future partnerships.
To learn more about Service Dogs of America, visit www.servicedogsforamerica.org.
For more information contact, Leah Hoffman at 701.774.4212
or for other information regarding Williston State, visit www.willistonstate.edu, call 1.888.863.9455, or stop by 1410 University Avenue, Williston, ND.