By Katie Curtis ’14
A junior student at Pacific Lutheran University wants the school to consider fluffier ways to provide students stress relief. Sarah Mastel, a psychology major, says she wants the university to consider having a campus animal available for students to spend time with.
“Having a campus animal, or animals, would just be a good thing as a student service to provide,” Mastel said. “Other schools are doing it; it’s not a new idea at all.”
Mastel said the idea came to her after she read an article about Stanford University providing animals to play with on campus.
“They just had a room of puppies that people could go and play with during their dead week. Now, I don’t know about you,” Mastel said, “but that would significantly de-stress me to go and play with puppies for 20 minutes.”
Stephanie Stromberg and Hannah Lansverk, friends of Mastel, say they like her idea about having an animal on campus.
“I would love a campus dog,” Stromberg said. “That would be like the world’s most loved dog.”
“I would definitely sign up to help take care of it, too,” Lansverk adds.
Stromberg and Lansverk said in their own experiences, having a dog, or an animal at all, provides them with a chance to eliminate some of the stress in their lives.
Mastel also points out that dogs in particular have another benefit they can provide. “People with dogs are more likely to get physical activity which, of course, has numerous obvious health benefits,” Mastel said.
“You can sit there and snuggle with the puppy,” she added, “or you could go run with the puppy. I don’t like running, but if I have a dog on a leash and the dog wants to run, you can bet I’m gonna be running with that dog.”
At her family home in Gresham, Ore., Mastel has two cats and a recently acquired beagle that she misses while at school. “Animals have always had a comforting presence in my life, and it would be nice to have that presence even this far away from home.”
Mastel has also noted her experiences with the calming qualities of cats. “Even for people who say that they really don’t like cats, if a cat curls up on your lap and starts purring, even the most anti-cat person, given they don’t have allergies, is going to be converted into a cat person, it just naturally calms you down to have an animal sitting on your lap purring or simply sleeping.”
While Mastel said she does not have a specific idea for how the university can go about acquiring an animal, she does suggest starting with the counseling center.
“Really it would be a therapy dog,” she said, “and it would be a good idea to get the counseling center in on it. I think that would be a good place to start animal therapy.”
With finals week fast approaching, having an animal on campus would benefit students experiencing high levels of stress. “Animals are cute and fluffy,” she said, “and who doesn’t like things that are cute and fluffy.”