Over 20 floppy-eared, snot-nosed and twinkly-eyed dogs filled the Lot 22 lawn yesterday, drawing a turnout of upward of 600 animal lovers throughout the day.
Hosted by the UCSB Wellness Program, Pet Day acts as an outlet for students to de-stress during Dead Week. The quarterly event featured Shih Tzus, German Shepherds, Labradors and poodles who were eager to slobber over, jump into the laps of and wag their tails at anyone willing to pet them.
According to Wellness Marketing Intern Carly Wasserman, a fourth-year sociology major, students can lower their anxiety and stress levels by playing with canine friends.
“I really think that it will be a really helpful break for the stresses that come with finals, to learn about the health benefits of lower stress and blood pressure,” Wasserman said. “[The dogs] provide social support.”
This is the second quarter that local pet owners have volunteered their pets through the Love on a Leash program to offer pet-provided therapy to UCSB students. The nonprofit organization also makes routine visits to nursing homes, schools and day care centers.
Pat Adams, the owner of a Golden Retriever named Buddy, said her adopted pup enjoys the days just as much as the students.
“This dog was put into my life so I could share him,” she said. “A lot of [students] say they miss their dogs at home. A lot of them have said this made their day. Having a dog to love on will provide them with therapy.”
Additionally, UCSB student Sarah Sloat, a second-year global studies major, said seeing Buddy made her long for her two labs back home.
“With finals coming up, I wish I was back at home,” Sloat said. “Dogs make you so happy and love you unconditionally. I steered off the bike path when I saw them.”
Furthermore, Sandy Hess, owner of a Shih Tzu named Holly and Schnoodle named Darsey, said this quarter’s event had a higher pet and student turnout.
“We had come in March, but there were only seven dogs,” she said. “Now we have 25 dogs. The dogs love it, they give a lot of loving and get a lot of loving here.”
Kathleen Jacobs, a first-time volunteer and the owner of a Bichon Frise named Bentley, said she decided to participate in the volunteer program to support students and bring happiness to their day.
“He receives a lot of loving,” she said. “Dogs are always looking for a lot of recognition.”