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Monday May 16th

Therapy pets return to campus to solve all of our problems

<p>Photo courtesy of&nbsp;Tara Needham</p>
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Photo courtesy of Tara Needham

Luckily, there are heroes coming to save students from this miserable scene.

Therapy pets — cats, dogs, mini horses — are coming to UNC during exam week to help students de-stress.

On Dec. 8, two dogs and three cats will be at Park Library in Carroll, room 268, at alternating times from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. And on Wednesday Dec. 14 two cats and one dog will be at Park Library from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Students will be encouraged to pet the animals, play on the floor with them and hang out.

“I’m not really sure you need more than that,” Stephanie Brown, director of Park Library, said.

If cats are normally known for a standoffish temperament, Archie and Cadi and Vivo, two Maine coon cats, are an anomaly.

“No cat in his right mind would want to be petted by perfect strangers,” Brown said. “They just sit there and if the people end up not petting them for any reason, they’re like, ‘Pet me, why are you not petting me?’”

Whiskey, a certified therapy dog and a volunteer at UNC Hospitals, will also be returning to the library.

Brown said the feedback from students, faculty and staff has been fabulous.

“People who have graduated often will tweet and say, ‘I wish I could come,’ so I think even more people would come if they could,” she said.

But the Park Library isn’t the only place with animals. On Monday, Dec. 12, miniature horses will be visiting the Health Sciences Library from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Stampede of Love, a nonprofit in Raleigh that brings mini horses to schools, hospitals and events for therapy and children, will be hosting the event, bringing their father-son duo of Leo and Kiwi.

Leo is 14 years old and 27 inches tall. He was the first mini horse Stampede of Love started their program with 12 years ago.

“We call him a grumpy old man now,” Tara Needham, the owner of Stampede of Love, said. “Kiwi is the exact opposite — he’s a nut job.”

Needham said all animals are great stress relievers.

“They take you to the side and let you breathe and be happy and take your mind off of any situations you’re facing,” Needham said.

And the mini horses’ uniqueness are a proven crowd pleaser in past visits to the Health Sciences Library.

“Last time, it was so funny, because students had no idea there was going to be horses there,” Needham said. “All the texts started flying and saying ‘you’ve got to come here and see this.’”

Junior Morgan Van Den Eynde has played with therapy puppies in the Union.

“It was a great stress reliever last year, and when I saw the flyer at my apartment, I got so excited,” Van Den Eynde said, referring to the puppies visiting Shortbread Lofts on Dec. 14 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Van Den Eynde said she wishes that these events educated students on the use of therapy animals in everyday life.

“It’d be neat if they advertised a little more about animal therapy work while people played with the animals,” she said. “I work at an equine therapy center, and it’s a mood lifter.”



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