Dogs chase away students’ stress during finals

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Mia Molina

One of the therapy dogs, Roma, receives belly rubs from a group of students.

Many students found themselves overwhelmed with stress during review week, but the stirring anxiety of fast-approaching finals melted away when some furry friends made an appearance in the quad.

On Dec. 15, The Associated Student Body (ASB) held one of its annual traditions, Dogs in the Quad, where students can bond with dogs to relieve stress and make joyous memories during an otherwise gloomy week. These dogs are therapy animals whose owners are volunteers at the Peninsula Humane Society.

Dogs in the Quad has been a tradition at Carlmont for many years, but during quarantine, ASB was unable to organize the event. Instead, they were limited to virtual activities, according to Chianti Raddavero, the facilitator of ASB’s Human Relations Commission.

“This event was already implemented when I came into ASB. But during distance learning, we had to stop for a while. We did different activities, but we’ve always done this kind of thing to help students with stress,” Raddavero said. 

Since Dogs in the Quad started up again in 2021, Raddavero has noticed “more and more people come every year to this event.”

The attitude of this large crowd in the ASB room changes once the students interact with the dogs, according to Raddavero.

“I love to see people immediately get this relaxed feeling when people are petting the dogs. Coming from outside to inside is such a different environment,” Raddavero said. “I think it helps a lot of kids put everything out of their mind and focus on just petting a dog.”

For students like Kara Cruz Monjem, feeling the softness of an animal’s fur can help distract from nerve-racking thoughts.

I think it helps a lot of kids put everything out of their mind and focus on just petting a dog.

— Chianti Raddavero

“I get stressed out a lot during finals. Most of the time, throughout school days, I am stressed because of the amount of work that I have,” Monjem said. “The thing about animals that comforts me is that they are such great companions. They’re good cuddlers, and their fur texture is soft. It calms my nerves.”

One of the owners of these “cuddlers,” Lisa McCoy, has been visiting campuses around the county with her dog, Roma, for the past five years.

“Having a pet to take care of, love you back, and give them unconditional love just takes away some of the stress,” McCoy said. 

Roma has helped McCoy herself with destressing and calming down occasionally. 

“I am going to school right now and some taking classes, so I’ll sit in my bed with my computer, and she comes and cuddles me, and this kind of helps me study more,” McCoy said.

Ever since McCoy got Roma when the dog was only 10 weeks old, she has always noticed that she is a caring animal. 

“She cares when I’m sad, and she’s just really sensitive to it. She has just always been like that,” McCoy said. 

Like many of the dogs at the Dogs in the Quad event, Roma has also always been open to meeting new people. Her outgoing personality convinced McCoy to volunteer for stress-relief activities. 

“When she was old enough and calm enough, I said, ‘she needs to do it. She needs to do something,’” McCoy said. 

Students at Dogs in the Quad do not only enjoy the company of furry friends like Roma, but they also report bonding with each other over a mutual love of animals.

Raddavero is hopeful that ASB will be able to plan another Dogs in the Quad next semester. But in the meantime, according to Raddavero, students can look forward to a “larger activity, very similar to this” that ASB has in progress.