I get great satisfaction from volunteering with my dogs. So it was with pride and pleasure that Loki and I joined six other therapy dogs (and their humans) to visit Keene State College this past week. In the aftermath of the school’s national notoriety as devastators of the Keene Pumpkin Festival, the students we met were feeling a little glum.

Our visit was part of an innovative program at Keene State College where therapy dogs owned by Monadnock Humane Society volunteers visit weekly. Designed as a way to help students bond with professors and counsellors outside of office hours or classrooms, Pause 2 Play is now in its second year. The aim of the program is to help freshmen get through the very tough transition of living away from home.

This week, in addition to the pressures of midterms, KSC students had the pressure of media spotlight on the vocal minority of their community who crossed the line and ruined it for everyone. Most of the young adults who shared space on the blanket next to Loki were focused on getting through midterms. Or looking to relax after a grueling marathon of study, writing lab reports, and completing exams.

In the News the Wrong Way

A few students looked hangdog when they asked, “so did you see KSC in the news this week?”

Of course I did. I live in Keene, too. But as is becoming clear, the majority of the perpetrators were not KSC students, but out-of-town party seekers whipped into frenzy by a social media site. Loki and I empathized with the sadness and frustration of the students we met—good kids trying to get through their courses. He shook paws with anyone who came by; offering a tail wag and a cheery woof to all. (He is a Collie and, like Lassie, speaks his mind.) As the students left, they seemed a little more optimistic. There were, after all, six other dogs needing to be petted.

Loki and I will be back at it next week. If you have a friendly, confident dog with impeccable manners and some time to volunteer, consider therapy dog work. For more information, contact me, and I can help you get started.