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Monday, April 22, 2019
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Students relax with therapy dogs

Lexi

Lexi, a Goodlendoodle, was one of several therapy dogs at Emerson on April 24 as part of Cirque de De-Stress in the Iwasaki Library. (Photo by Nick Eaton '17)

Emerson received four very furry guests on April 24, when therapy dogs arrived at the Iwasaki Library.

Koda, a Newfoundland; Raven, a mini Poodle; Lexi, a mini Goldendoodle; and Sophie, a King Charles Spaniel, work for the Pet Partners Animal Therapy Program and were part of Emerson’s Cirque de De-stress, an event that offers students a break from the stress of final exams.

Arts and crafts, snacks, and chair massages were also part of Cirque de De-Stress, but the room full of wagging tails, fluffy coats, and wet noses was the biggest draw.

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Katie Grindeland '17 with Koda, a Newfoundland therapy dog. (Photo by Nick Eaton '17)

“Dogs just make everything better,” said Lindsay Miller ’16 as she sat on the floor petting Lexi.

Students marveled at the size of 150-pound Koda, who was plopped contentedly on the floor as numerous hands reached out to pet him.

Raven and Lexi incited giggles with their boundless energy while Sophie stopped to greet each enthusiastic student who came to see her.

Pet Partners Animal Therapy Program’s trained animals visit veterans, seniors, young children, and other groups that may be comforted by the presence of a furry friend.

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Sophie, a King Charles Spaniel, with Emerson students on April 24. (Photo by Nick Eaton '17)

While the groups of people the dogs interact with are diverse, Pet Partners handler Sue Abkowitz said that the general reaction is usually similar to that of the Emerson students who were meeting the dogs that day. 

“Every group interacts with the dogs differently, but the response to them is always good,” said Abkowitz.    

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A group of students with Sophie, a therapy dog, on April 24. (Photo by Nick Eaton '17)

The visit from Pet Partners was a break from the burdens of finals and, for some students, was also a reminder of home.

“I miss my own dog a lot, and spending time with these dogs reminds me that I get to go home to see my family soon,” said Erin Corrigan ’15.

Cirque de De-Stress is the winner of this year’s group Spirit of Emerson Award. The program was created by Diane Paxton, director of disability services; Patricia Challan, associate director of Emerson Counseling and Psychological Services (ECAPS); and Mary Cate Hirschbiel, outreach coordinator at the Iwasaki Library.

The group is scheduled to receive its award during the Faculty Assembly meeting on Tuesday, April 28.

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Andrew Romano '18 with Koda. (Photo by Nick Eaton '17)