4-legged stress relievers

MANSFIELD — Contact with animals, especially felines and canines, can lower blood pressure and generally help with the kind of stress today’s university students feel, studies have shown.

Animal Care Sanctuary has been helping to meet that need at Mansfield University by holding three-hour “canine comfort and kitty cat cuddling” events at least five times per year during particularly stressful points such as at the beginning of semesters, during midterms and finals.

The events are very popular with students, said Donna Miner, administrative assistant for student life at the university.

“We are working on coordinating more events but so far we have five for the current year,” Miner said.

Student William Trible, a senior from Halifax, said he has attended many comfort events and seen two of the dogs, Dozer and Toby, many times.

Toby is a terrier-Scottie mix owned by Sharon Davies, an office receptionist at the sanctuary in Wellsboro.

“It is very helpful to students to be able to hang out with dogs and cats during high stress times,” Davies said.

Dozer, a large Rottweiler mix, “has his own fan club,” said Andi Pfisterer, Dozer’s owner and a volunteer at ACS.

“He lives for the interaction with people,” she added, as Dozer seemed to be in doggie heaven as he was getting petted and brushed by a group of students Tuesday.

Junior Ryan Brown, of Little Meadow, said having the dogs there “is very helpful.”

“Dozer reminds me of my own Rottweiler at home,” he added.

Trible noted that he really enjoys animals, having had a job with a wildlife park in the past.

Two freshmen, Alexandra Timins, of Scranton, and Taylor Musa, of Millersburg, said this is their second time attending an event and both said they “love it.”

“It calms me down, and relieves my stress,” Musa said.

Both women were cuddling cats, one of which, named Essac, is blind.

“He reminds me of my cat at home,” she said. “I think they need this as much as we do,” she added, stroking Essac’s fur.

Kitten foster mom Diane Stehman, said she fed Essac from a bottle when

he was a newborn kitten. She also owns two tuxedo cats, which get that name due to their coloring. Both Pixie, a 2-year-old, and Chinook, a male cat, were born without tails.

Being born without a tail may not seem so bad, but it is difficult for cats to get their balance without their tails, and it also causes bladder and bowel issues, so they are considered special needs, Stehman said.

“Pixie also had vestibular syndrome at birth, which is an imbalance between the brain and ear, causing her head to turn to the side,” Stehman said.

For the first six months of her life, she couldn’t walk, Stehman added.

“She would roll everywhere,” she said.