Wednesday was a gorgeous, summer-like day in the high 70’s. The Amherst campus of the University of Massachusetts glowed with sunlight and foliage was at it’s peak. Bicycles lined the many racks around campus.
All in all, it was a bucolic sight. But, what caught the eye of many on campus that day were the twenty-five Bright Spot Therapy Dogs as they headed to the Student Union Ballroom for a Therapy Dog Stress-Relief Event providing students with a much-needed break from the pressures of studying for mid-term exams.
One would think students would want to be spending break time out enjoying the summer sun. But not where dogs are concerned.
It was an easy choice for the record-breaking crowd of 1600 students, many who cite missing their own dog as the one thing they miss the most about being away from home.
Upperclassmen have grown accustom to our Bright Spot Therapy Dog Events on their campus. We hold four such events on the UMass campus each academic year, at mid-terms and finals, each semester.
These students find out the dates of the events ahead of time and mark them on their calendars. I’d never miss a therapy dog event, said one female student, smiling and petting my dog King as she spoke.
Freshman are new to this special treat and seemed extra thrilled at the prospect of seeing us back again in early December, then February and April.
They love the variety of dogs in attendance. Large, tiny, and in between. Different breeds and mixed breeds. Most students made sure they spent time with every one. Voices were soft and a sense of calm filled the large ballroom space. Students texted friends to come on over. Selfies with the dog were being snapped. Some students left to attend a class, then came back for more hang-out time with the dogs.
It’s a win-win for all involved. Fun for the students and for the dogs. The job of a therapy dog is to happily accept hugs and petting from others. A lot of that happened during the 2 1/2 hour event!
One volunteer in attendance is a recent UMass graduate who enjoyed these events so much when she was a student that she and her dog trained with Bright Spot to become a certified team. She was happy to give back to the students what she had enjoyed so much.