Four legged friends ease stresses of college exams

The life of a college student in Claremont isn’t all fun and games. There’s the stress of writing papers, the late-night study sessions and for many, being away from their families for the first time. December marks the culmination of an entire semester of course work as well as being away from the comforts of home.

As regular classes end and finals week begins, lowering student stress during end-of-term exams is a goal that Pomona College takes seriously.

For the past six or seven years, the campus has hosted De-Stress Fest. One of the goals of the event is to remind students that they need balance in the lives; they need to take breaks to re-charge and rejuvenate.

Enter man’s best friends to save the day.

This year, nearly 600 students attended the De-Stress Fest #Selfcare held at the Smith Campus Center South Lawn on December 11. Stressed-out students were able to grab snacks (including gift cards from 21 Choices), participate in a meditation exercise hosted by Davis Soul.

However, the highlight for many attendees was the opportunity to spend a few minutes with some four-legged, furry friends – 20 dogs and puppies just ready to be loved.

“We have found that students really enjoy an event where they can take a break from studying or writing papers and simply relax for a few hours,” explained Ellie Ash-Bala, associate director, Smith Campus Center and Student Programs at Pomona College. “Many students have their own pets at home that they miss, so it’s great for those students to get a temporary “puppy fix.”

While Pomona College freshman Shivani Doraiswami didn’t have a dog while growing up, she definitely plans to get one when she’s out on her own.

“I am so happy right now,” said Ms. Doraiswami as she cradled one of the dogs.

Over the course of three-hours, hundreds of students lined up to spend some quality time in a two exercise pens with pooches of all shapes and sizes.

“They are so small and fluffy I want to hold them forever,” said one student of the dogs provided by Puppies and Reptiles for Parties.

Vincent Stewart, who owns the company with his wife Elaine, has been providing animals for events since 1989. Although they primarily cover children’s parties, the request from colleges has grown over the past 10 years and he’s happy to participate.

“The students get the same thing from the puppies that we all get…unconditional love. They just enjoy the puppies and it makes them happy.”

Fall semester and final exams at Pomona College conclude on Friday, December 19. Classes will resume on January 20, 2015 when Spring Semester begins.

—Angela Bailey


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