No bark or bite, just pets

By Angelina Garibay |Staff Writer|

Finals are right around the corner and students are feeling worried, anxious, stressed and pulled in four or five directions with assignments; what is a student to do?

Some students curled up next to a pooch or snuck in a massage, enter the Pet Away Worries and Stress (PAWS) event held to remedy such collegiate maladies.

The Student Health and Psychological Counseling Center hosted this event on March 8 to help soothe the anxiety that comes at finals’ time with therapy, dogs and free massages.

“I’m stressed about all the stuff that comes at the end of the quarter,” said student Kelsey Slater.

Over 300 students participated in the four-hour event, petting away their stress and chatting with the trainers in the Lower Commons.

“It’s fun and relaxing. You never get a chance to pet so many,” said student Eddie Lopez.

The seven dogs came in all sizes ranging from the 120-pound, Black Russian Terrier, Petrovich, to the 17-pound Pekinese, Gizmo the Gremlin.

The students’ laughter could be heard around the room at the dogs’ antics of putting their paws out to shake or playing dead.

It was a relaxing atmosphere as groups of students were sitting on the floor with the dogs while asking the trainers questions about the dogs’ histories.

Several of the dogs were rescued from unfortunate circumstances but took to the therapy dog training amazingly well.

One of the dogs, Emma Zen – part Labrador and Great Dane – was rescued from an animal shelter and now has her own website, emmazen.com, and Facebook page. This dog has a big repertoire of tricks and even takes acting gigs.

Emma’s owner, Debra Jo Chiapuzio, feels like she is the lucky one since getting Emma. Owning this special dog has opened doors for Chiapuzio to feel fulfilled by helping others.

The trainers were also doing their part to let the students release their stress by inviting them to talk about finals as they petted the dogs.

CSUSB students weren’t the only ones who had a great time with the dogs. A group of students from Ramona Alessandro Elementary were on a field trip and got to enjoy the experience as well.

The elementary students were especially drawn to the huge Pyrenees, Cera,as they enjoyed burying their hands in her long fur. Her owner,

Kathie Park, surprised them when she said she had four more Pyrenees’ at home. That brought up questions about how much food Cera consumes.

“She only eats four cups of dog food a day,” said Park.

Even though Cera looks big, she only weighs 89 pounds and her metabolism doesn’t require as much food.

The Student Health and Psychology Counseling Center had planned to have five massage therapists at the event to last the entire four hours.

Unfortunately, only two showed up and only stayed for two hours.

Regardless, 40 lucky students were treated to a free massage, compliments of those students from Kaplan College.

Another PAWS event is planned for spring quarter finals. A word of advice; get there early for a free massage!

Dogs and students

Angelina Garibay |Chronicle Photo

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