Stress relief with four legs

John Brown University, the mid-semester push is coming! We’re getting into the swing of our daily schedules, and everything is hectic. Just like most of America, you probably have or have had the flu. Anyone else feeling kinda…meh?

If you’re anything like me, your brain feels like a Safari browser on a 2010 MacBook that has 37 tabs open: slow, confused and overloaded. This is often how I feel towards the end of every week. By Friday, mid-day, I can barely do simple addition at my job at Ground Floor. If you’re a perfect student and you never feel like this, go you! But if you do, I think it’s time for a little pick-me-up.

My solution to this overwhelming ‘meh’ is simple: every Saturday afternoon, I walk the dogs at the Siloam Springs Animal Shelter with Tailwaggers NWA. It may sound cheesy (I would know, I’m from Wisconsin), but the one hour per week I have devoted to the pups at the shelter has changed my college experience.

First, it makes me happy. Even if you somehow hate dogs, it will make you happy too! Dogs are scientifically proven to increase dopamine levels, and stimulate the production of oxytocin, both happiness and love chemicals.

The dogs you could walk at the shelter are kenneled and separated from other dogs for most of the day, which means they’re extra, extra happy to see you and spend time with you, no matter who you are. I’ve met dogs of all sizes, colors, breeds and temperaments at the shelter, but I’ve never had one that wasn’t happy to be walked.

Secondly, walking dogs at the Animal Shelter is an easy way to de-stress. The shelter is just over two miles away, but it feels far enough away to be a remedy for that “I gotta get off campus for a hot minute” feeling.

After a day of classes, I’ve found that I feel a lot better after getting some movement in my day. Also, when you have a puppy licking your face, it’s much harder to stress about the test you just took or the paper you haven’t written yet. The stress of the day is non-existent when walking dogs.

Lastly, walking dogs with Tailwaggers is a mutually beneficial way to give back to the community we all currently call home. Not only do we find it rewarding for the aforementioned reasons, but the dogs need us! Without us, their lives in the shelter would look much different.

Instead of getting sufficient human interaction, socialization and hourly exercise, they would be confined to cold, steel kennels all day, only let out for brief periods of time. The reality that most shelter dogs live like this breaks my heart. We have the opportunity to change that reality.

If I’ve convinced you to give the shelter a hand, shoot me an email at BaschL@jbu.edu! The current openings are Monday at 11am, and 3:30pm.