Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Plattsburgh offers Wellness Week to students

Bryn Fawn

With midterms coming to a close, students have found themselves stressed and stretched thin. To combat this, Kristina Moquin, a mental health counselor on campus, alongside Love on a Leash, an organization that utilizes service dogs to help others, worked together to create Wellness Week. Services that were provided included depression screenings Oct. 19 and therapy dog sessions throughout the week. 

Brett Goldberg, a community advocate in Wilson Hall, said he hadn’t heard about the event, and he had encountered the dogs by chance in the Angell College Center. He originally mistook the dogs to be service animals, but still approached them to engage and pet them. 

The golden retriever Crosby and great dane Luci Mae have commonly been mistaken as service animals. 

Kelcey Briggs, Crosby’s handler, said “many mistake [Crosby] for a service dog.” 

There is a difference between a service animal and a therapy animal. Service animals are trained for one particular person, while therapy animals are trained to assist many people at one time and are able to handle a lot of stimuli at once. 

“There is even evidence-based research that reading to therapy dogs can improve [students] reading levels — awesome research about that,” Briggs said. 

Briggs said a service dog’s job is to provide support and comfort for those who really need it. Crosby’s clients aren’t the only ones who benefit either. 

“[Crosby] loves it just as much as everyone else loves it,” Briggs said.

Luci Mae, the nearly two-year-old great dane that was Crosby’s cohort, was less out-going than Crosby, but still brought smiles to student’s faces. Gayle Roycollin, Luci Mae’s handler, claimed to have owned multiple therapy dogs and loved having her dogs work and help the community. 

Roycollin also mentioned Luci Mae’s accomplishments including sniffing out three seizures and empowering nonverbal students to speak. She said Luci Mae worked 15-hour shifts in middle and high schools, which led to her more laid-back demeanor.  

Goldberg admitted that the therapy dogs were a great reprieve from the stress of schoolwork. He commented on his own pets that he has at home: a 10 year-old chihuahua and a 14 year-old German-shepherd-shiba-inu mix.

Goldberg believed events like Wellness Week are important. 

“As a CA I did not hear too much about this event,” Goldberg said. “I knew that it was Wellness Week, but I did not hear too much about [the therapy dogs], and it would have been nice to have posters put up in the buildings.”

Goldberg also believed attempting to do other events for Wellness Week would be difficult. 

“It’s hard to find out when everyone is available. Having animals — people can come here when they can — stop by and relax,” Goldberg said. “Things like yoga or anxiety-relief sessions are harder to plan out, and they’re harder to get people to come to because you really have to plan a specific time for those.”

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