02 October 2009

In PA, Dog Days Help Students Adjust to College Life

About 5 in the afternoon, they started to gather on this central Pennsylvania college campus: The shih tzu brothers Boomer and Otis; Maggie, a lumbering chocolate lab; Cole and Chase, the David and Goliath of the bunch, of course named after Phillies; and the talented Bunsen, the boxer mix who has his own blog and can eat treats he flips off his nose.

Then it was time to send in the homesick freshmen.

"You're cute! You look like my dog," said Kayla Springer, 18, a biology major from Kennett Square, who was fussing over Chase, a border collie/German shepherd.

Thus began one of the "Dog Days," as they're formally called at Susquehanna University, along the banks of the Susquehanna River. Professors and other staffers brought their dogs to school for an hour of social interaction with students, especially freshmen, on Tuesdays during September.

The events, held in a grassy area outside the dining hall, are designed to help students overcome their homesickness - particularly the piece most painful for some: absence of the family pet.

"The fact is that students miss their pets, sometimes more than they miss their families," said Anna Beth Payne, associate dean of student life and director of the school's counseling center.

"You, as parents, didn't sleep with them in the bed every night before they came away to college. The dog did."

To read the rest of the story, head on over The Philadelphia Inquirer.