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Therapy Dogs Brings Smiles to Students Taking Midterm Exams

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CLARK, NJ - The stresses of midterm exam week can be quite “ruff." Luckily, the students of Mother Seton Regional High School got a surprise visit from some furry friends to help calm their nerves.

On Wednesday, Jan. 17, Certified Therapy Team Sharon Flammia and Calliope Cocoa Gray, (a Pomeranian and Siberian Husky mix) volunteered to bring some joy to the students taking their mid-term exams.  Calli and Sharon came back the next day along with two other therapy dogs belonging to senior, Catie Koenig.  Catie’s Siberian Husky, Silver, and Australian Shepherd, Ranger, did their job in giving the nervous students some affection and comfort.

The dogs were stationed in the Drama Studio in between the morning and afternoon testing sessions for students who wished to interact with the dogs. There was a natural curiosity about meeting the trusted pets. And, the animals didn’t disappoint anyone looking for a distraction. There were plenty of giggles and lots of love exchanged.

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“We all know the warmth and affection we feel from our own pets at home,” said Laura Flammia, director of Development and Alumnae Relations. “Since my sister-in-law is involved with pet therapy, I thought the Mother Seton students could benefit from their visit.”

It wasn’t just the students who benefited from the stopovers from the therapy dogs. Mother Seton’s staff also found their way into the Drama Studio and took advantage of the animal cuddles. Everyone seemed to leave the room with a big smile.

There are many scientifically proven physical and emotional benefits of interaction with gentle and friendly animals including lowering blood pressure, improving cardiovascular health, and releasing endorphins (oxytocin). The end result produces a calming effect, lifting spirits and lessening depression, and decreasing anxiety.

The concept of using therapy dogs for exam takers has proven to help even college exam takers.  The University of Buffalo has employed loving pets as exam stress-busters since 2011.

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