At All For Animals, we’re grateful for all of our wonderful volunteers, and today we’d like to thank Elizabeth Bowman for all she’s done for us.
Not only has she brought her lovely beagle Molly into our therapy dog fold, she’s brought our organization into the lives of some of our local college students.
For those of us who went to college, you may remember: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Yes, it was fun to meet new people, explore new topics, discuss ideas with other intellectuals…but then there were FINALS.
Elizabeth is the Library Director at Santa Barbara City College (SBCC), and is no stranger to the plight of these students at finals every semester. She’s responsible for the operation and management of the library, and all the services, programs, and staff. One of those services is creating a “Relaxation Station” before each semester’s finals, and in the last few years, Elizabeth decided to add the ARF! therapy dogs.
It will be no surprise to anyone that it has been a big hit with the students.
That’s not to say that the rocking chair, art supplies, coloring books, and hula hoops weren’t popular stress relieving tools for the finals-dreading students, but the dogs—well, need we say more?
“Over 75 percent of our students are part time, and many hold one or more jobs while also going to school,” explained Elizabeth. “Many are taking classes to complete a certification for jobs or transfer.” As we all know, the consequences of not doing well on your finals can be serious and that’s a big source of stress.
Even in the first year, the response from the students about the dogs was overwhelming. “The impact on the students is visible,” Elizabeth noted. “Students were crying with joy. The volunteers and their dogs are just mobbed. Just mobbed.”
It’s not just the students living away from home, and their dogs, who attend the SBCC Therapy Dog event, although many students mention missing their beloved pet, whether it’s a pet at home or a pet who has passed away.
But there’s a reason why so many students join in, whether they realize it or not: Research shows that interaction with pets decreases a human’s level of cortisol—or stress hormone—and increases endorphins, or “feel-good” hormones. Research also shows that excessive stress can impede memory, which is not a good combination for those studying for a final, but that even just five minutes of petting a therapy dog can significantly reduce stress.
The next therapy dog event at SBCC is May 3rd. If you’re a student, check in at the Luria Library and get the details!