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If you strolled through the Spectrum Lounge in the Trojan Center on Wednesday afternoon, you were probably distracted by a few wagging tails and random acts of cuddling. 

What you witnessed was the “Wagging Away Stress” event developed by the First Year Residential Experience (FYRE) staff.

“When we plan our activities in FYRE, we try to find ways to address the problems and transitions we know our students are experiencing. We wanted a way to help our residents cope with the stress that this week and finals week will bring in a healthy way!” said Bryce Nussbaum, DSU’s FYRE Coordinator, Zimmermann Residence Hall Director and Council Advisor, and Academic Probation Counselor.

 “As a Residence Hall Director with a dog of my own in the hall, I have had numerous occasions when a resident would knock on my door asking if they could just take my dog out on a walk or play with him. Through many of these conversations, we have come to know a number of dog owners in the area. The puppies and dogs are an extension of this idea,” said Nussbaum.

The canine participants of the event were six-week-old miniature dachshund puppies, George, Zoey, Rocky, and Murphy; Tuff, an Australian Shepard; Max, a two and half year old boxer mix; and Shiloh, a seven year old Pekingese/Poodle mix. All of the participants were canine companions from DSU students, faculty and staff.

From the reaction of the students huddled around the cuddly balls of fur and taking in the intoxicating aroma of puppy breath; the pups successfully fulfilled their mission by reducing puppycuddlingwebsome of the students’ stress.

Ashley Kroger, a DSU sophomore from Mitchell, said while snuggling with one of the pups, “Yes, it definitely is a good stress reliever!”

Studies show that when petting a dog, a hormone called oxytocin kicks into high gear. Oxytocin, which is sometimes dubbed "the cuddle hormone," helps reduce blood pressure and decreases levels of cortisol, a hormone related to stress and anxiety, according to “How dogs spread happiness”,  by Steve Dale, for USA Today.

Using animals to reduce stress is not a new concept to higher learning institutions. At Yale Law School, a cross-breed terrier named Monty is available for check-out as the Yale Law School Therapy Dog from the campus library. See more information about Monty at http://library.law.yale.edu/blogs/news/2012/09/19/meet-monty.

Last Updated: 12/7/12