Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Conn chapter.

Life at the University of Connecticut can be exciting, overwhelming, and complicated. Sometimes all three in one day. As a senior, it has taken a lot of time to feel comfortable in learning to embrace all of those contradicting feelings. Some days are just better than others and that is okay. I define a great day by interacting with animals, whether it be running into a person walking their dog around Horsebarn Hill or finding an adorable voiceover dog video on TikTok. Since my roommates and I don’t have a pet in our apartment, we like to explore ways to be around animals. So, I have just the recommendation to those who are in the same boat!

Pet therapy

Two years ago during my sophomore year, my friend and I were trying to find activities or programs to participate in while the pandemic was still in full force. After exploring many options, we luckily discovered that through Student Health and Wellness at UConn, they host Pet Therapy. Intrigued and elated, we knew it would be healing. Even when we had to wear masks and watch our distance, SHAW and the therapy dog handlers worked hard to provide such a heartwarming experience. Students would sit around and pet the dogs while their handlers would talk about their dog’s journey or everyday experiences with their pet. It is such a pleasant experience, and interacting with a therapy dog after not being with a family pet while away at college is such a happy moment. For that alone, I encourage everyone who misses their dogs to go. 

Pet therapy’s main and consistent events are through the SHAW department. For this fall semester, rotating therapy dogs and their handlers meet at the Cordial House, every Tuesday from 5:00—7:00 pm. However, there are additional times to see the dogs for those who have a schedule conflict. The first Thursday of every month, the William Benton Museum of Art hosts a First Thursday series with an open mic, crafts, and pet therapy. Another time to find these sweet dogs is at Homer Babbidge during finals week, which is smart because students are inside the library frequently during that point of the semester. You can expect to meet different dogs during the semester when attending because there are over fifteen registered therapy dogs in the program, which is exciting to encounter diverse dogs.

Tails of Joy

UConn works regularly with Tails of Joy, an organization that visits schools, universities, hospitals, or assisted living homes to uplift the spirits of people of all ages. They offer training classes for aspiring therapy dog families and offer informational meetings. In addition to the gratifying personal experience with pet therapy here at UConn, science has found that the body releases an automatic relaxation response by petting animals, which is important for both mental and physical health. Such benefits include lowering anxiety, reducing loneliness, lowering blood pressure and improving cardiovascular health according to UCLA Health on animal-assisted therapy research.

Hopefully, this convinces you to seek out pet therapy while at UConn and beyond because of its numerous scientific benefits. I promise their cute faces can’t hurt. 

Emily Clifford is a writer for Her Campus UConn. She enjoys writing about her unique experiences at college and other topics such as career, culture, and lifestyle. Emily is also the Marketing Vice Chair of SUBOG's Digital Entertainment and Films Committee and Vice President of Media for UConn CHAARG. Emily is working at the UConn Center for Career Development as a College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Ambassador this school year. During her free time, Emily loves to read contemporary romance and fantasy novels, taking spin and barre classes, and baking. She is a huge fan of the NY Islanders and of sailing. One of favorite podcasts is Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend.