A closer look at the canines of West Pine

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Leaving home for college is tough: no more mom, no more home-cooked meals, and the hardest of all, no more waggy-tailed dog to be your number one fan.

When living on campus without a dog, students truly realize how much stress relief dogs can provide. Is it their stress-free mindset? Or is it just because they are cute and remind you of home?

Studies show that playing with a fellow fluffy friend is proven to increase the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and decrease the stress-inducing hormone cortisol. Science is telling us to play with dogs. What could be better?

While walking down West Pine, one will see a handful of carefree dogs who love being a prime source of entertainment for students. Especially King. King is a German Shepherd who walks around freely off the leash, playing fetch with owner Grant.

Freshman Marissa Ornelas recalled playing with King four months ago at SLU 101, so clearly King is a memorable dog. Grant explained how he believes students usually seem “excited,” because he’s “sure they miss their own dogs from home.”

The American Pet Products Association states that “almost 50% of families have a pet dog” in America. Using SLU as a sample of America, nearly half of the students here have dogs back home. Most are not happy about leaving their dogs when they come to school.

Student Alex Wood says her Bichon Shih Tzu named Lucky “was the one to greet me every night when I got home, it was just her and I most of the time. So leaving her was very hard.”

But because SLU is an open campus next to a dog park, there are many dogs who stroll through, inviting students to give them some love.

Wood describes how she feels when she sees a dog on campus: “It is bittersweet, because I’m happy there is a dog but sad because it makes me miss my own dog”

The amount of students who suffer from any form of anxiety is overwhelming, yet not shocking. Research from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America shows that “80 percent [of students] say they frequently or sometimes experience daily stress.”

SLU understands this amount of stress is unacceptable, so in the University Counseling Center there is help in the form of a four-legged hound. Hoonah, a rescue dog, will h a p p i l y help stud e n t s relax if it means he will be petted!

(If you cannot make it to the University Counseling Center, you can always keep up with Hoonah’s whereabouts on his Instagram page, @hoonahatslunah.)

Even though one may not be a dog person, everyone certainly wants to be happy. If it seems hard to find a calm state of mind one day, give a warmhearted canine a try. What is the worst that could happen?

Shannon Tinsley, a freshman, is not too much of a dog person, but she agrees, “When I pet dogs, I feel warm and happy on the inside.”

If one day you are feeling overwhelmed, take a stroll down West Pine and scope out the puppies. Ask if you can pet them, and feel the stress leave from your body while you do.

If there is a rare occurrence and there are no dogs outside, Hoonah will be waiting for you to pet him in the University Counseling Center.

Students may not be too stressed about classes now, but during midterms and finals, Hoonah, and many others, will be very busy being the all-natural stress reliever for many students.