Therapy dogs provide comfort in ruff times

By Izzy Anderson - Staff Reporter



Dog lovers and stressed-out students alike had a ball of a time, as therapy dogs were brought to campus last Tuesday.

The Highline Psychology Club and International Leadership Student Council held the event "De-stressing with Therapy Dogs" on Jan. 30.

Dogs were brought in to help relax students with plenty of pets and cuddles, and paws-on information on resources regarding mental health and de-stressing techniques were provided.

This event is just the third in a series of six events from the ILSC Marathon, a series of activities that will continue to take place over the Winter Quarter. A certificate of participation is rewarded to anyone who attends at least four out of the six events.

"I got super excited because I saw that they were having this on [Highline's] Instagram, and I've already been really stressed with life in general. And I like dogs, so," Highline student Kelsie Leyyett said.

Four therapy dogs were brought to the third floor of Building 8, where students were welcomed in small groups to meet and pet the friendly canines.

"They're both show dogs… and we wanted something for them to do after they got done showing," said Terry Wissinger, an owner of two Dalmatian therapy dogs, Clover and Ellie. "My wife got interested in therapy work with Clover first."

"There are so many places that want therapy dogs. Schools, hospitals, colleges. Clover goes to the Puyallup library to read… she lays there and lets people read to her without worry," Wissinger said.

The breeds of therapy dogs can vary, what matters more is the age and personality-type, said John Ott, an owner of a therapy dog named Fozzie Bear.

"Fozzie's a Golden Retriever-Poodle mix. They call them Golden Doodles," he said.

"They have to be at least a year old… to be certified. They have to be enough out of the puppy stage," Ott said.

Without proper certification from Therapy Dogs International, a therapy dog has a very limited amount of locations to provide their services.

"A lot of public places don't want just any dog to come by… they want to make sure you are properly registered first," Wissinger said.

Whether students attended the event due to stress or their love of dogs, many people left happy about meeting them.

"I've never wanted a dog until today… I've always been a cat person," said one Highline student.

"I want a dog now. I swear, I'm going to go home and buy one," said another student.

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