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Puppy Pawlooza: Stressed Students Can Relax with Therapy Dogs

December 01, 2014

Puppy Pawlooza

It’s that time of year again when puppies take over Drexel University. Keeping with the recently established University tradition, the beloved Puppy Pawlooza event will be held prior to finals week to offer students the cutest form of stress release. 

On Dec. 2, a group of certified therapy dogs will play with students for several hours in the Grand Meeting Hall and Terrace in the Gerri C. LeBow Hall from noon to 3 p.m. It’s a special way for students to find relaxation during a busy time: research shows that interaction with pets decreases the level of cortisol—or stress hormone—in people and increases endorphins, known as the happiness hormone.

For the first time, a student entrance and exit survey will be used at this event to gauge the stress levels of students before and after playing with the dogs. Students will be asked to grade and rank their levels of stress and identify stresses in their life. The survey was designed by Kevin G Montgomery, MBA, director of College Operations in the LeBow College of Business, who collaborated with Wilfred Agbenyikey, ScD, MPH, a postdoctoral research fellow in the School of Public Health, for guidance. The two of them will also conduct an analysis on the results.  

Drexel has established a longstanding dedication to bringing therapy dogs to campus for out-of-the-box coping methods. During last year’s “Puppy Pawlooza” events held at the end of every term, about 500 to 800 students would show up to play with a handful of therapy dogs.

This fall, Drexel became the first university in the country whose recreation center hosts an on-site therapy dog, named Jersey, year-round. Drexel is also the first college in the Greater Philadelphia area to retain a therapy dog on campus. According to Kathryn Formica, Jersey’s owner and coordinator of student fitness and wellness in the Drexel Recreation Center, about 30 students visited Jersey per day around midterms, compared to an average of 10 to 25 student visitors per day during normal periods. 

The event is put on by a multitude of Drexel collaborators including Campus Activities Board, the LeBow College of Business, the Drexel Recreation Center, Active Minds at Drexel University and Drexel Peer Counseling Helpline.

Puppy Pawlooza will be held this year on Dec. 2 in the Grand Meeting Hall and Terrace in the Gerri C. LeBow Hall from noon to 3 p.m

To watch a video from last year's Puppy Pawlooza, click here.