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Students

'Dog Nights' a big hit with stressed students

December 7, 2010
By Tony Phifer

Once each month, students get the chance to cuddle up to a variety of pooches at "Dog Nights." The final event of the semester is at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Ingersoll Hall.

Pooches get plenty of attention from students during "Dog Nights" on campus.

With projects due and final exams looming, the last days of any semester are usually among the most stressful for colleges students. Most will jump at the chance to relieve the angst – particularly one that makes them feel loved.

'Dog Nights' a popular diversion

Perhaps that’s why “Dog Nights” have become so popular at Colorado State. Students are invited to a common area at a residence hall, where a group of volunteers and their dogs await.

“I’ve had residence hall staff tell me that these are probably the most popular events they host,” said Jody Donovan, CSU’s interim Dean of Students. “The students really seem to respond to being around the dogs. It gives them a taste of home and gives them a nice study break.”

Students, pets get together monthly

Donovan, with help from Jack McGrew, Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Student Affairs in the College of Natural Sciences, helped institute “Dog Nights” nearly five years ago, and the event’s popularity has grown. She tries to schedule one per month at various campus locations, giving students plenty of opportunities to bond with the pooches.

“I’ve been to every one of these since September,” said Edgar Nieto, a freshman from Denver who was with friends Monday night during “Dog Night at Braiden.” “I have really been looking forward to this. Coming here helps me relax, and brings out my inner child.”

Program started by McGrew and his dog

McGrew and his dog, Tess, initiated the program nearly 15 years ago in conjunction with the College of Natural Sciences. "Pet Night at Ingersoll Hall" brought students together with all kinds of pets and their owners, inspiring interaction with hamsters, ferrets, lizards, snakes, birds, cats and dogs.

Donovan has since helped spread the program to other residence halls.

Dogs come in all shapes, varieties

Nieto was busy playing ball with a border collie, while other students were handing out treats to the 15 or so dogs on hand. One aging Labrador retriever mix perfectly displayed the symbiotic nature of the event, soaking up attention from six students who delighted in stroking his reddish coat.

“This is a really stressful time of year, and this really does help relieve the stress,” said Anna Magnuson, a freshman from Breckenridge. “I really like the big lab – he’s like a big lion. All of the dogs bring their unique personalities, which makes it fun.”

Pets help relieve stress of finals

Many of the students have pets of their own they had to leave behind when they came to CSU. Others simply were looking for the opportunity to soak up some unconditional love.

“There are more dogs here than I thought, so it has been really fun,” said Jeff Gibbens, a freshman from Loveland. “I wish we could do this every night.”

'Pet Night' Thursday at Ingersoll

Donovan has scheduled one more event this semester. “Pet Night at Ingersoll” will include all kinds of pets for students to enjoy; action begins at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

“You watch these students arrive, and they are usually pretty agitated,” she said. “Then you see them get around these pets, and they just calm down. It’s really neat to see.”