TitanWell and Pet Partners OC bring dog therapy to Cal State Fullerton

In Features, Lifestyle
Moana being pet by a visitor with handler Jen observing.
Bailey Jones / Daily Titan

Walking into the TitanWell patio on select Wednesdays, furry friends such as Moana the bunny and Monet the poodle, are prepared to bring peace to students’ turbulent lives.

TitanWell is recognized at Cal State Fullerton for student outreach and the promotion of healthy choices. Offering several on-campus services, dog therapy is one of them. While the peer education programs range in focuses, this event specifically highlights sleep and self-care.

Run by peer health educator Lynette De Los Ángeles and the sleep and self-care team, this program is by the students, for the students. The team works under Gloria Flores, a Cal State Fullerton health educator. Referring to themselves as the Dream Team, they work to provide a relaxing environment.

“We try our best to make it as calm as possible and the Student Wellness patio is a great place to do that,” Los Ángeles said.

TitanWell works with Pet Partners OC, who provide the service animals for the event. Both the handlers and the animals hop on board as volunteers and those at TitanWell like to think the combination of furry friend and human create a more enjoyable experience, Flores said.

Visiting the animals is free of charge, but does require some time to wait. A waiver must be signed for safety and legal purposes, and students must wait in a line to have time with a dog. This ensures that the pet is not overwhelmed and that everyone can have one-on-one time.

Active Minds, a club on campus that tries to raise awareness for mental health, provided materials for painting, coloring and a do-it-yourself lavender spray, maintaining the relaxing theme at the Wellness Center throughout the event.

I believe it kind of helps students realize that self-care is important and we try to give them that time to do that … If we can have other activities for them as well to show some things they can do on their own, that’s important,” said Raymond Nguyen, president of Active Minds.

The TitanWell Hut, an informational booth set up on campus, also made an appearance. Reaching out to passerbys to play a game of “Jeopardy!” Rienne Medina was able to relay some helpful stress-related statistics.

“According to a survey done on campus, 40 percent of students feel an overwhelming amount of stress,” Medina said.

She encouraged that a 20-to-30-minute nap has the same energy-building benefits as drinking a cup of coffee.

The organizers try to put on the event at least six times throughout the semester for students. Hosting over 100 Titans this fall, the turnout for this event has continually increased. They hope to keep expanding the program as it is still in its beginning stages.

Though other dog therapy programs exist on campus, the event held by TitanWell has been the longest running one, according to Flores. First established in 2015, creator of the event Laura Ross held a smaller-scaled version of the event to determine whether or not it would be successful and it has continued ever since.

Karla Perez, a member of the Dream Team, noted that some of the events offered can become hectic as they are held in the Quad or in a highly populated area. However, she emphasized the necessity for personal wellness and how that can be achieved through this program.

“It’s really useful. Its really unique. We have 40,000 students and counseling and psychological services are impacted. We only book out appointments two weeks in advance,” Perez said, regarding animal therapy.

The high demand for psychological services makes the event an alternative to signing up for a talk therapy appointment if students need a quick break to relax and take a breather.

The dog therapy sessions will continue to meet on select Wednesdays from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

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