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Therapy Dogs Provide Stress Relief for DP Students as Finals Approach

Sandy+Grasso-Boyd%27s+labrador+retriever+Barley+performs+tricks+for+students+in+front+of+the+Administrative+Office+on+Jan.+16.+Groups+of+students+surrounded+the+dogs+in+order+to+alleviate+their+stress+before+a+week+of+final+exams.
Sandy Grasso-Boyd's labrador retriever Barley performs tricks for students in front of the Administrative Office on Jan. 16. Groups of students surrounded the dogs in order to alleviate their stress before a week of final exams.

Sandy Grasso-Boyd's labrador retriever Barley performs tricks for students in front of the Administrative Office on Jan. 16. Groups of students surrounded the dogs in order to alleviate their stress before a week of final exams.

Photo credit: Jaden Gill

Photo credit: Jaden Gill

Sandy Grasso-Boyd's labrador retriever Barley performs tricks for students in front of the Administrative Office on Jan. 16. Groups of students surrounded the dogs in order to alleviate their stress before a week of final exams.

By Jaden Gill, Editor-in-Chief

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Students poured out of their 4th period classes on Jan. 16, wondering which final exam they should prioritize studying for later that night. As they neared the main office, these stressful thoughts were interrupted by a group of therapy dogs trained to reduce anxiety.

Dos Pueblos High School’s Wellness Connection Club collaborated with Love on a Leash—a non profit organization for pet therapy teams—to bring a group of owners and their therapy dogs to campus with the goal of relieving students’ stress for a brief moment in preparation for finals week.

President of the Wellness Connection Club and DP junior Allison Mintzer was thrilled to see so many students attend the lunchtime gathering designed for stress relief.

“We are part of four different clubs,” Mintzer said. “There’s one at San Marcos, Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, and the Middle College, but Love on a Leash really helped us all out. There were so many people surrounding the dogs and the tables—it was really cool to see.”

Sandy Grasso-Boyd and her labrador retriever Barley have been a part of Love on a Leash for about a year and a half. Before beginning volunteer work, Grasso-Boyd had Barley complete a training process in order to pass the final test that ensures the dog will succeed as a therapy animal.

“We took him through training at the human society to get him accustomed to walking with you and being at ease with other dogs and people,” Grasso-Boyd said. “Then you have to do 10 hours of community service to become certified as a Love on a Leash dog.”

Since then, Grasso-Boyd, alongside the other Love on a Leash volunteers have been visiting nursing homes, hospitals, and schools to provide emotional support for anyone who may need it.

Their most recent efforts have been focused on students in the Santa Barbara area who are enduring finals, while mourning the recent tragedies in the community regarding the Thomas fire and mudslides.

“It looks like everyone was just excited to have the dogs here,” Grasso-Boyd said. “For the few minutes that they’re with the dogs, they’re not thinking about their finals or their problems and they’re just relaxing a little bit.”

As lunch continued, students formed clusters around each of the dog/owner-duos as the dogs performed tricks and the students pet them, an effective distraction from a week of long nights studying and early morning exams.

Senior Julia Forster was among the students who attended the event and was overwhelmed by the number of smiling DP students she saw in front of the Administrative Office.

“The dogs definitely helped relieve my stress,” Forster said. “Dogs bring so much positive and loving energy to everyone, so having them at school for finals week was perfect.”

Organizations such as Love on a Leash continue shedding light on the healing effects of therapy dogs who are trained to provide comfort and affection to anyone who may need it—in many cases, high school students.

 

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Therapy Dogs Provide Stress Relief for DP Students as Finals Approach