Canine provides stress relief

By Mika Cummins

May 5, 2014

Missouri Western is offering a unique way to relieve stress during finals week, starting on Tuesday, April 29. Therapy dogs will be in Eder Hall Room 208 every day until May 6 for students, faculty and staff who would like to take a break from the stress of the week. Chandler and Bailey, two seasoned registered therapy dogs, will be available from 3 to 4 p.m. Dr. Melinda Kovács is an assistant professor of political science. She’s also the dogs’ handler. Kovács is a handler with Pet Partners. Pet Partners is a nationwide organization which has volunteers bring therapy dogs into a variety of settings to alleviate stress. Kovács had tried, at a previous job, to bring in therapy dogs, but was rejected. “Here at Missouri Western...I was very delighted to find that doors opened up,” Kovács said. “What I am hoping it can do is point to a different direction. Even at your most stressed, when you touch an animal...if you’re an animal lover, there’s a visceral connection that will make you focus on something other than the hideous stress of finals.” Chandler came by Western on Dead Day to offer an hour of stress relief to anyone who stopped by. He is a 12-year old Australian Shepard and Chao mix. Kovács other therapy dog, Bailey, is a helper dog for Chandler, who is blind. “Chandler is the kind of dog who wants to be the center of attention,” Kovács said. “He also is the kind of dog who wants to take charge. He is aspiring to be the boss of us all in our pack at home. So, he is a very independent, very strong-willed and very self-reliant type of dog.” Kaitlin McLeod is a junior majoring in early childhood education. McLeod stopped in to see the dogs. “I like it,” McLeod said. “I love puppies, so it was exciting to see another puppy on campus.” Mackenzie Lovitt is a sophomore who is majoring in art therapy. Lovitt took a break from studying for her finals to come by and pet Chandler. “I’ve been in the library all day, so it was a nice break to take,” Lovitt said. “I love dogs, so it was just kind of relaxing and calming to come play with a fluffy and cute dog.” Chandler and Bailey will be ready for petting every day of finals week, weather permitting. “If things work out, we’re trying to figure out a way to regularly have therapy dogs on campus during the semester,” Kovács said.