Double the dogs, double the smiles

By Marissa Spencer and Bridget Hoyt

Two clubs at Rider, Active Minds and Nonprofit Connections each hosted different dog-related events on campus this week. Active Minds’ Dog Therapy event occurred on April 8 in the Student Recreation Center with the intent to help students destress before finals. Nonprofit Connections had students pay $5 to pet dogs on the Campus Green on April 9.

As the treacherous week of finals approaches the Rider student body, a cure for the madness comes in the form of floppy ears, panting tongues and wagging tails.

Pausing for paws

Rider Active Minds held its annual dog therapy destress event on April 8 to help those needing some tender loving care. 

Members of the Rider community could grab their two-legged friends and join some four-legged ones in the Student Recreation Center to engage in some joint unwind-time. 

The mission of Active Minds is to promote a safe zone for students and their mental health on campus. The group also aims to promote friendship through coordinating events where students can meet like-minded peers. 

Sophomore biology major and president of Active Minds Chloe Bacsik shared her passion for the club and why dog therapy, the club’s most attended event, is so successful. 

“Goat yoga is always so popular, and who doesn’t love a dog,” she said. 

Sophomore communications major Matt Malec, vice president of the club, elaborated on the future of the program’s events.

“We plan to do more dog therapy and many other events,” Malec said.

The furry friends featured at the event included Lady, Layla, Axel, Luca and Buttercup, and students lined up, grinning widely at the prospect of playing with the animals. 

Some students jumped at the chance to watch the dogs enjoy Puppuccinos, a Starbucks special of whipped cream in a 3-ounce cup.

All the dogs present were certified therapy dogs, each aided by their respective owners. The volunteers hailed from Morris Plains, New Jersey, where Bright and Beautiful Dog Therapy is located. 

The mission to alleviate school-related anxieties was seemingly achieved, as students were giggling and petting the pups with appreciation and enthusiasm, with no trace of stress. 

Two of the therapy dogs at the Active Minds event enjoy a “Pupcup”. 
Grace Bertrand/The Rider News

Paws for a cause

After an afternoon of being comforted by dogs, students got the opportunity to return the favor at the new Nonprofit Connection club’s “Pet-a-Pup” event, where fluffy puppies from EASEL Animal Rescue sat on the Campus Mall and received lots of attention from adoring participants.

Volunteers from the Ewing shelter brought these cuddly canines to campus, raising both money and awareness for the organization. To meet the puppies, students added their names to a ten-minute time slot in a spreadsheet and made a $5 donation to EASEL as an attendance fee. Each window had room for 10 names.

Among the puppies receiving plenty of attention were three labrador mixes — one brown and two black — named Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup after the titular characters of the children’s series “The Powerpuff Girls,” and a black terrier mix named Bear. The curious cuties were not shy of new people, sniffing hands and even sparing the occasional face lick.

The event ran from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and by the afternoon, the soft and sleepy pups were dozing off on the grass and in the laps of attendees, who fawned over the loveable animals, with some even expressing interest in adopting one themselves.

To these excited students, EASEL volunteers encouraged getting involved at the shelter, especially through dog walking, and commented on how beneficial events like these are for socializing the puppies.

This is the second year the “Pet-a-Pup” event has taken place at Rider, both dreamed up and organized by junior supply chain major and Nonprofit Connections president Valentina Laguado, originally as part of last spring’s Management Skills class.

“That whole class project became more than just a class project. It became something that we actually cared about,” said Laguado. “By getting to know the people at the organization … it just became something bigger.”

According to junior entrepreneurial studies major Francesca Roehm, who is the treasurer of Nonprofit Connections, most participants were more than happy to make the $5 donation, but the club, who checked students in at a small table, did have some trouble explaining to passersby that this was an RSVP-only event that required a fee to participate.

“People just came up without acknowledging the table,” said Roehm. “We had to be like, ‘oh, you have to pay for a pet,’ … We had to be the bad guys.”

Laguado said that both last and this year’s iteration of the event raised over $500 for EASEL each. Her leadership in this event is what led her to start Nonprofit Connections.

“I want to help, and I feel like partnering with this kind of organization is a way to create an impact on the community,” Laguado said. 

Grace Bertrand is public relations chair for Active Minds and incoming features and entertainment editor for The Rider News. Bertrand had no part in the writing and or editing of this article. 

Felicia Roehm is a member of Nonprofit Connection and opinion editor of The Rider News. Roehm had no part in the writing and or editing of this article. 

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