NORFOLK, Neb. – It appeared she was sleeping, but Joanna was doing exactly what she was supposed to be doing during a recent visit to Northeast Community College.
As part of a Finals Week, the College’s Student Care and Counseling Office brought in Joanna, a trained comfort dog, to provide their own brand of therapy to help students destress during Finals Week as the academic year concludes.
Joanna was joined by two fellow Golden Retriever trained comfort dogs who shared their talents of gentleness and love with whomever they encountered.
They spent time with students in the College’s Union 73 on the Norfolk campus.
“We wanted to provide students an opportunity to take a break from studying to relax and get rejuvenated as their finals approach,” said Gina Krysl, director of student care and outreach. “Over 200 students stopped by to see the dogs, get information on mental health, and enjoy snacks from Student Activities. It was exciting to see students interact with the dogs and destress.”
The dogs are part of Lutheran Church Charities (LCC), which launched its K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry in 2008. In the past, LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs and their handlers have been deployed to El Paso following a mass shooting at a Walmart, to New York and New Jersey to visit with victims of Superstorm Sandy, and in Connecticut after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The organization currently has over 130 K-9 Comfort Dogs serving in more than 27 states. LCC operates training facilities in Illinois and Nebraska.
The event came during Mental Health Awareness Month. Krysl said the visit by the dogs and their handlers provided a great opportunity to educate and connect students to counseling services at the College, which are free to all students. She helps them deal with depression, anxiety, trauma, relationships and more.
Krysl said she overheard one student who spent time with the dogs say, ‘this is the best kind of therapy.’
“I am so thankful for the LLC K-9 Comfort Dog program for coming to campus. We plan to invite them back this fall. Students were eager to ask when we could have them come back.”
Northeast Community College students Emerson Pavlik, Creighton, (left) and Romeni Gurmendi, Boulder, Colo., speak with Susan Holland, Lincoln, as Holland’s certified comfort dog, Joanna, rests her eyes during a stop at the College recently. The visit by Joanna and two other Golden Retriever comfort dogs through Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry gave students an opportunity to relieve stress during Finals Week at Northeast.