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Hit the Paws Button

Can’t get enough puppies? Rhody Paws 2013 on Flickr.

The Student Senate Cultural Committee brought five therapy dogs, one dog in training, and two puppies to the Quad for last year’s inaugural Rhody Paws. Corgis, Labs, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, and more are expected this year.

The ultimate solution to finals stress? A good fur fix.

They fixated on balls, slumbered in students’ arms, and gazed contemplatively across the Quad last April—and they’ll be back.

Why? Scientific studies show pets reduce blood pressure and improve well-being. A less-than-scientific survey at Barlow this winter indicated that’s no shaggy dog tale: despite frigid temperatures outside, warm feelings abounded as a group of students chatted amiably, surrounded by chew toys, during a weekly visit from therapy dog Fenway (above, as a puppy last spring).

“When you’re stressed, it doesn’t get a lot better than petting a dog,” says Fenway’s owner, Kathy Rumsey. “And dogs that become therapy dogs feel the same.”

Ten years ago, Rumsey brought home Angus (right, middle photo) and saw how the long-haired Shepherd drew her four-year-old son, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, out of his shell. She and her highly trained animals—Angus is passing the leash to Fenway—work in schools.

The inaugural Rhody Paws attracted 500 students, bearing gifts of $150, plus toys, leashes, and dog food. This year will feature live feeds of canine antics on Student Union TVs and, organizers hope, more students and more donations. But most of all, says Student Senate organizer Joe Maynard ’16, who misses yellow Lab Hannah at home in Pawtucket, he’s looking forward to “more dogs. More time with them, and a lot more of them.”

—Pippa Jack

Rhody Paws, Monday, April 28, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the Quad (rain date, April 29), free and open to all, benefiting Animal Rescue League of Southern Rhode Island. Donations to 213 Robinson Street, P.O. Box 458, Wakefield, RI 02880. Contact ARLSRI at 401.792.2233 or arlsri@verizon.net.

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