October 19, 2017

For the past three semesters, the Hunt Institute has invited Therapy Dogs to join the students of SMU during the stressful midterm season. This semester, students had the opportunity to stop by the Hunt Institute on Thursday, October 19th to love on the dogs.  The Heart of Texas Therapy Dogs brought three dogs for students to pet and play with, that are trained to provide affection and comfort. There were students coming in and out of the Institute all morning to mingle with and

Young girl from India embracing the greyhound dog as the dog leans into her

Jay, the retired greyhound racer, enjoyed the hugs just as much as the students.

pet the dogs.  The four-legged visitors included Eddie, a red golden retriever; Jay, a retired greyhound race dog; and Moby, a Great Pyrenees;  all were ready to be loved on.

Corrie initiated the Therapy Dogs event after a unique experience: at the end of a challenging day, she was at the grocery store when another shopper’s therapy dog came up to her and leaned on her leg which, she later learned, is how dogs give hugs. “I just felt so touched that the dog would recognize how I was feeling from across the store, and single me out to come over and comfort me.  It really cheered me up,” Corrie said.

Three female students laugh and interact with each other petting a red golden retriever who is laying on his back enjoying the attention

Eddy’s favorite thing was to have his tummy scratched, especially his “tickle spot” according to his owner.

As a member of the SMU campus, Corrie has seen how students can get incredibly stressed, especially around midterms and finals when they have pressing deadlines, tests and projects.  Freshman and international students are particularly stressed: the middle of the semester can be really hard because homesickness starts to set in, and there is pressure to keep up grades and keep scholarships.

The leadership team at the Hunt Institute does a lot of good work globally and locally but they believe their first responsibility is to students. “These therapy dogs have a unique way of tearing down the social barriers and discomfort of talking about stress and homesickness,” Corrie said.  “It brings us all closer together and allows students to talk about things.”

If you missed the event, the Hunt Institute will invite the Therapy Dogs to return next semester!

Moby, the Great Pyrenees, surrounded by students, staff and his “Momma”.

 

Written by: Kim Strelke’ 17