Hound Hugs and Kanine Kisses is back

A dog is a man’s best friend. In other words, a dog is a Minnesota State student’s best friend. The first month of the fall semester has passed and midterms are quickly approaching. Before many students are set to go and study, a small break in between doesn’t hurt., especially in the company of therapy dogs. 

Several volunteers from the Alliance of Therapy Dogs brought in a couple of their canine friends for their monthly Hound Hugs and Kanine Kisses session Thursday at the CSU Hearth Lounge. A couple of volunteers from the ATD reflect on their experiences from past events held on campus such as a session they held during this year’s welcome week. 

“I’ve been here several times and it’s very well attended. Looking around, it’s wonderful. It’s fun to come here, the dogs love it,” volunteer Shelly Schulz said. “We have a nice mix of breeds and also ages.” 

Schulz brought along her British Labrador Lucy who is 7-years-old. 

“She’s relatively new and we started last November. She went through this criteria. It’s online and it does a really good job of saying what our responsibilities are so that any dog that’s here has a good disposition and good temperament,” Schulz said. “She loves it. Whenever I tell her it’s a therapy dog visit, she spins around; she shows her teeth. She’s really happy. She looks forward to it.”

Therapy dogs like Lucy are part of the ATD, an organization made up of volunteers. They provide testing, certification, registration and support for any members who volunteer their dogs in activities and events like Hound Hugs and Kanine Kisses. Their goal is to form a team of kindhearted members along with their unique dogs to spread and share joy among people, including MSU’s student body. 

Another volunteer Judy Simonsen is a tester and observer for the ATD. Her job is to make sure the ATD members and dogs have a good relationship and that the dogs are adequate for visits, whether it be on MSU’s campus or other facilities. 

“All of the dogs are registered with our national organization. They’ve all been tested and they have their health certifications so that they can come to visit.” Simsonsen said. 

Simonsen brought in her 9-year-old Bloodhound Beckett and shared her thoughts on how meaningful bringing in therapy dogs for students can be.

“We talk to a lot of students that maybe have dogs at home that they miss. Just something different from the normal things around campus so we certainly hope that this can be very impactful for students.” Simonsen said. 

Holding events like these can also be beneficial in many ways as MSU student Kristianne Vazquez expresses her opinion on how these sessions can help fellow students as the academic year continues to progress. 

“I definitely feel like they help with mental health. Vazquez said. “It’s nice to have a break during the day while in college. And it’s especially very nice to just pet the dogs.” 

The Hound Hugs and Kanine Kisses sessions will be held every third Thursday of the month at the CSU Hearth Lounge during the academic year. They will also hold sessions during Finals Week which will be on the first full week of December. 
To learn more about ATD, visit www.therapydogs.com

Write to Anahi Zuniga at anahi.zuniga@mnsu.edu

Header Photo: Certified therapy dogs come into the Centennial Student Union every third Thursday of the month during the academic year to interact with MSU students. (Courtesy Lenny Koupal)

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