Sign In

Manchester Community College Students Offered Virtual Pet Therapy During Coronavirus

May 4, 2020

Adapting a typically hands-on program for the coronavirus pandemic, Manchester Community College will offer “virtual pet therapy” sessions as students head into final exams next week.

An important part of the college’s stress relief service — being able to pet a dog or cat — will be missing from the video sessions, but pet therapy expert Laurel Rabschutz said just the sights and sounds of the animals could provide some benefit.

“Hopefully, just seeing the dog will help them relax a little,” Rabschutz said of students interacting with her Newfoundland, Wrigley, one of the participating pets. “Of course, he might sleep through the whole thing, too, but we’ll see how it goes.”

Paula Pina, the college’s associate library director, recruited MCC staffers and their dogs and cats for three days of live Webex sessions. Students will be able to talk to the pet owners and ask questions. Monday’s lineup is Lady, Spot and Ziggy; Tuesday’s sessions feature Trix, Tater Tot, Wrigley and Munchie; and on Wednesday, Axa, Nova, Shay, Lola, Kitty, Jack and Teddy.

The college started the program in 2015, partnering with Manchester-based Tails of Joy, a nonprofit network of volunteers and their therapy animals. Students facing the crunch of final exams visited designated classrooms to interact with the pets, and they always emerged feeling better, Pina said.

“It’s one of the most gratifying things I’ve been involved in, just to see the smiles on the students’ faces,” the 22-year MCC veteran said. “It’s just a delight.”

No one’s sure, however, how the virtual therapy sessions will go, said Rabschutz, who coordinates college visits for Tails of Joy.

“This is new territory for all of us,” she said.

But the altered program could open doors for people who cannot personally interact with therapy pets, patients whose immunity is compromised, for instance, Rabschutz said.

“This could be a whole new area for pet therapy,” she said.

Register Your Dog

  • Most Recent News

    Izzy The Therapy Dog

    There is something different strolling the halls of schools in Moody this year and she’s soft, gentle and loves kids. Her name is Izzy and she is a two-year-old Goldendoodle, turned therapy dog. Her owner, Sgt. Ron Richardson, with the Moody Police Department, saw a video of a therapy dog being used in Cullman County […]

    Read more

    Animal Advocate

    Penny, a spaniel mix who works as a canine advocate for domestic violence victims through Crisis Center North, is nearing retirement. She was adopted from Action for Animals in Derry Township and attends court dates with victims to provide emotional support. But before she retires, she has one more job. She needs to train an […]

    Read more

    Dog Chow Campaign

    In honor of National Service Dog Awareness Month, Purina Dog Chow is launching its third annual “Service Dog Salute” campaign. A service dog can be life-changing in helping veterans with PTSD and other post-combat challenges. Unfortunately, due to the cost and time it takes to train a service dog, less than 1% of veterans in […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dog In School

    A Derry primary school this week welcomed a new member of staff – its very own therapy dog. Joy will be used to provide comfort and reassurance to pupils at St Oliver Plunkett Primary School after studies have shown that therapy dogs have a positive impact on children’s mood and behaviour. St Oliver Plunkett is […]

    Read more

    Polices Therapy Dog

    The Great Barrington police department is holding a swearing in ceremony Friday for its new therapy dog, Officer Beko. Beko is a 16-week old black lab and works with Officer Kris Balestro. Beko’s training, certification and care are funded by donations from the local community. Officer Beko is the first therapy dog to join a […]

    Read more

    BarkBox Launching Essentials

    If your dog loves to monitor your work when you’re cooking, generally gets underfoot the entire time and sees “taste tester” as their official title, these new dog toys may be essential in your kitchen. Starting Oct. 1, Bed, Bath & Beyond is introducing a new line, specifically tailored to your dog’s kitchen needs. In […]

    Read more