By Madison Lewis
On a dreary, rainy Thursday night, service puppies lent a helping paw in the fight to protect Rider students from succumbing to everyday stress.
On April 6 in the Student Recreation Center (SRC), students lined up quickly and eagerly, waiting to pet dogs from the Bright & Beautiful Therapy Dogs, Inc., a company that brings therapy animals to schools, camps, hospitals and other events to reduce stress.
A mental health club on campus, Active Minds, organized the event as a means to cope with upcoming finals and promote effective mental health habits.
“Within my first year as a Rider student, I feel quite satisfied with the attention Rider does pay to student’s mental health between clubs like Active Minds, the services the counseling center offers,” said Libby D’Orvilliers, a freshman psychology major and member of Active Minds. “I feel like there’s quite a lot of opportunities for students to receive the help they need and be educated on how to take care of their mental health. I think Active Minds is doing a great job of that by providing events such as the dog therapy event where students can learn some coping skills.”
During this event the students could take their pick of the emotional support animals to pet, ask the pet owners questions about their dogs and relish in the relaxing environment.
There were Layla and Maisey, two black labs, Tony, a lab-beagle mix, a long-haired collie named Buddy and Allie, a Shetland sheepdog.
“It was really calming. … I felt more relaxed, honestly,” said Mekhia Gwynn, a freshman arts and entertainment industries management major.
This reaction seems to be ideal, as D’Orvilliers explained the mission of Active Minds as well as the way they promote positive change at Rider.
“Active Minds is a club that promotes mental health care. In the club we talk about ways of navigating mental health challenges, specifically as a college student, including stress management, coping skills and the like,” said D’Orvilliers.
If a Rider student feels down on their luck or down by life’s many challenges, they can turn to Rider’s health services, and maybe they’ll be met with big, fluffy ears, a tail and a set of paws that can provide them mental relief.