As the stress of a college semester increases the EMU Wellness Center offers students and dog lovers a chance to relax with Wellness Woof Wednesday.
Through a partnership with Therapaws of Michigan Inc. licensed therapy dogs are brought onto campus on every third Wednesday from 4-7 p.m. in the Snow Health Center. Four to five therapy dogs are brought during a one and a half hour block of time for attendees to interact with.
While "puppy rooms" were offered in previous years the Wellness Center wanted to offer students a way to interact with therapy dogs on a regular basis.
Eric Ward, program coordinator at the Wellness Center, said that past events were too structured and the goal is to offer attendees a more informal setting to interact with the therapy dogs.
"It's informal, they don't have to pet the dogs and they can leave whenever they want," Ward said. "The goal is to help make them feel better and to connect to campus resources."
The event averages about 125 people and has grown every year since it started in 2014. Based on feedback from surveys sent out by the Wellness Center students often report that they feel better and less stressed after attending Wellness Woof Wednesday.
Gabby Woods, freshman general business major said, "I loved it, I'm so happy and so excited. I just feel so much lighter and less stressed."
The therapy dogs at the event were just as excited to receive attention from all of the students. If students weren't giving them their undivided attention they would bark at them or sit in their lap.
Jenna Williams, sophomore exercise science major said, "Just being in the same room as a dog, I'm absolutely elated."
Ward said that the event has been qualitatively and quantitatively successful. It also offers students a chance to reconnect with a dog if they miss one at home. The Wellness Center is also open to expanding the event through the feedback that they have received, ranging from being held in other locations such as the REC/IM, in residence halls and the Student Center. Instead of every third Wednesday of the month Wellness Woof Wednesday may also be held more frequently based on that feedback.
Mackenzie Schley, sophomore pre-med major said, "If it was every week I would come. It doesn't matter, as long as they are dogs I would be there."