Bam-Bam is one of many therapy dogs offered by Just Paws.

With midterms coming up and the semester going into full swing, you can visit the IUP therapy dogs to destress.

The Just Paws therapy dogs are enthusiastic about helping students get the animal therapy they need. According to the American Psychology Association, college students are experiencing mental health issues at a concerningly high rate. The most common issues are anxiety, depression, homesickness and relationship problems.

Luckily enough, these are all things that therapy dogs have been proven to help with. Paws for People, a non-profit based in the U.S., reported that dogs help lower anxiety and stress levels as well as raise dopamine levels which helps with depression.

“Being able to see the therapy dogs is super helpful,” Bridget Gardner (freshman, environmental engineer) said. “Keeping on top of classes and work is super stressful, and my day is made one hundred times better when I get the chance to go to an event.”

Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Just Paws event had to stop many of their operations.

“For a while we weren’t able to do visits where people could come and go,” Sara Dillon, assistant director of health and wellness promotion said. “Last semester, we actually did it where we did visits where students had to make appointments. This semester, we decided to return a bit more to normalcy.”

On campus, there are events in which the dogs are easily accessible. The Health and Wellness Promotion department {in partnership with Just Paws} hosts an event 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. every Monday in Folger Hall where students can visit the therapy dogs.

“We have three to six other dogs that come alternatively,” Dillon said. “It depends on the weather and the pandemic right now.”

If going to events and having lots of people around isn’t your style, then you can always book an appointment with the dogs. Dillon said that she can be contacted through her school email so that students may request to see Ranger throughout the week.

Students can even request a specific dog when booking an appointment.

“Seeing the therapy dogs, it makes me feel like I can take a break from all the stress that I feel as a student here,” Jules Stuer (junior, psychology) said. “It’s very helpful just to pet the puppies.”

When the thought of midterms, exams, personal life, and just school in general becomes too stressful, think about stopping by Folger Hall and giving the therapy dogs a visit.

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