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Therapy dogs to join students on the Quad for stress relief

By Kathryn Barrall
On April 29, 2014

Final exams weighing you down? On Monday April 28, Student Senate is bringing therapy dogs and search and rescue dogs to the Quadrangle in an event that aims to bring stress relief to students in light of upcoming final exams. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., 25 dogs will be on the Quad welcoming students to play with them.

Counseling Services will also be present at the event. They will have a booth set up providing information about their services and how students can get in contact with them. From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., a search and rescue demonstration will take place, showing how these search and rescue dogs are trained and how they perform in given situations.

The event, titled Rhody Paws, took place for the first time last year. According to Sarah Patterson, Student Senate cultural affairs chairperson, the idea came from Joseph Maynard, current president of Student Senate. Therapy dog owner Kathy Rumsey used to bring her dog, Fenway, to Barlow Hall once a week and this inspired the inauguration of Rhody Paws.

"It kind of just stemmed from there," Patterson said. "People loved it in Barlow so we decided to bring it to the masses of URI."

In coordinating a spring event for last year, Student Senate considered the incident that had occurred at the Boston Marathon.
"We were thinking about... how we could incorporate these tragic events and how we could really make it into something beautiful and something that is good for the community," Patterson said.

She credits Maynard to thinking of the therapy dogs from Barlow. The Senate contacted Rumsey, who put them in touch with a number of therapy dog owners.

To bring these dogs in, Student Senate partnered with Pet Partners, a therapy animal organization that provides therapy animals to events, retreats, hospitals and the like. The organization provides these animals by contacting therapy animal owners who then bring their pets to these events.

According to Patterson, about 500 students attended this event last spring. With only eight dogs last year, the Senate hopes for an even bigger turnout this year with 25 dogs.

"It's just a way to [get] stress relief, a way to get involved in the campus and really just bring the community together," Patterson said. "That's really what our goal is, to create community relationships and have every student feel like they really do belong on this campus and I hope that events like these can really foster that kind of community."

This event is free, but anyone is welcome to make a donation. All donations will go to the Animal Rescue League of Southern Rhode Island. They will be collecting money donations in addition to goods such as dog food, treats, leashes, and toys.
"What better way to relieve stress than to pet some cute dogs and hang out on the Quad on a nice day," Patterson said.


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