Photo Courtesy of Charlie Butchko
National Puppy Day, celebrated annually on March 23, was created to honor the love, joy and loyalty of puppies. However, there are more to puppies and other pets than their lovable and energetic presence.
Pets can relieve their owners of stress, anxiety and depression.
“I can pet my dog and play with my dog when I feel sad, and it makes me feel better,” freshman Charlie Butchko said.
Some colleges have been researching the benefits of having a pet and have found astonishing results.
According to a University of Virginia study cited on PsychCentral, a website that shares information about psychology, petting a dog can lower heart rate and blood pressure, in addition to increasing serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that regulates mood and sleep, and increasing it can decrease the likelihood of depression.
According to Animal Smart, a website that shares science-based information on animals, studies also show that playing with or petting an animal increases the hormone Oxytocin, which reduces stress and decreases the production of the stress hormone Cortisol.
Along with health benefits, pets are loyal companions to their owners.
According to freshman Hannah Suh, her dog jumps, wags its tail and kisses her when she comes home from school, which makes her feel loved and takes her mind off the stress of schoolwork.
For some, dedication and companionship draws them to pets.
“They are always there for you whenever you need them,” sophomore Abby Mazer said. “They are there to hug and snuggle with through bad times.”
CHS’ Sources of Strength Organization (SOS) was created to help students find strength in their lives through many outlets, such as friends and family. SOS has used pets and stress dogs during exams for their psychological perks and stress-relieving abilities.
According to a Dec. 19, 2013 CNN article, colleges such as Emory University, the University of California Berkeley and Columbia University have provided therapy dogs during finals week to relieve excessive stress. Stress can cloud students’ memory and make it difficult for them to retain information.
SOS organized bringing therapy dogs to CHS between exam periods this past January.
According to AP Psychology and Law teacher Jamie Frank, who is also the staff adviser of SOS, she was inspired to bring the dogs during exams because dogs calm nerves, provide comfort and are an emotional outlet in times of stress.
While pets can’t cure depression and anxiety, they can serve as a great temporary reliever of stress and depression. For some students, pets can be great friends that put them in a better mood.
“I love pets because they are so much fun to be around and they always lighten the mood,” Mazer said.