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Puppies sniff out student stress

Amanda Gray | Sunday, December 4, 2011


Wet noses warmed student hearts at the first “Puppy Days” event, held at Notre Dame’s Knights of Columbus building Friday.

The event, sponsored by student government’s Constituent Services Committee and Circle K, brought five dogs and a rabbit from the Humane Society of St. Joseph County to campus to relieve student stress, event coordinator Lizzie Helpling, a sophomore, said.

“Because we live on a college campus, we’re isolated from ‘petable’ animals,” she said. “Talking to my friends, pets are what they miss most at college.”

More than 500 students attended the event, five times the number organizers planned for, Helpling said.

“From having a dog at home, I know how relaxing it is to pet an animal,” she said. “This gives students a taste of home and shows them the responsibilities of owning a pet just out of college.”

The Humane Society welcomed the chance to come to campus, outreach coordinator Genny Carlson said.

“I’m glad there are so many students who love animals,” she said. “We always look for events like this.”

Carlson brought dogs she knew could handle a crowd, such as Jack, a chow mix known affectionately as “Happy Jack.”

Another dog, a yellow lab and Shar Pei mix named Alex, spent the morning at a grade school before visiting Notre Dame.

“I saw him coming in from the school and brought him right here,” Carlson said. “It gets them out of the shelter for an afternoon. They get lots of love and dog treats.”

Many students said they attended the event because they miss their pets from home. Freshman Katie Bascom said she attended because she misses her golden retriever, who lives 600 miles away from campus.

“I actually didn’t come because of stress,” she said. “I miss my dog.”

Bascom said she would love to attend another Puppy Days event featuring another popular pet.

“I would love to see kittens here,” she said. “Everyone loves to play with kittens.”

The Humane Society saw the event as a chance to promotevolunteering opportunities to students, she said.

“For volunteers, we want people who have the time to dedicate to [the animals,]” Carlson said.

Sophomore Lindsay Rojas said the event helped her cope with being away from her pet Shih Tzu, Gizmo.

“I couldn’t pick a favorite [dog],” she said. “It really helped with stress.”

On-campus service organization Circle K volunteers support at the Humane Society, senior Jessica Choi, leader of that volunteering effort, said.

“It means a lot to me that we got the Humane Society out to campus,” she said Friday. “The project died down, and I’ve been trying to revive it for the last three years. Bringing it back as a project and event, especially with all these people here, is amazing.”

Choi said Circle K is always looking for more volunteers to add to the group, which trains the animals for adoption by walking them and spending time with them.

“In terms of volunteers, we want dedicated people with lots of love for service and animals,” she said. “They have to have a lot of time.”

For more information on the Humane Society and volunteering with Circle K, visit http://www.humanesocietystjc.org