Dec 062004
Authors: Kathryn Dailey

Odin, a 3-year-old Doberman pinscher, lay content on his back while three students pet his stomach in the Wellness Zone Monday morning.

Odin is one of the 89 dogs with Human-Animal Bond in Colorado, or HABIC. HABIC works in schools, hospitals, nursing homes and hospices, said Ashley Foster, assistant director at HABIC.

On Monday some of the dogs and their owners were at the Wellness Zone in the Lory Student Center as part of Stress Busters Week. They will be back for more fun today.

"Everybody loves dogs," said Lynn Kalert, a registered nurse from Hartshorn Health Service who helps with staffing and designing programs at the Wellness Zone. "We just want to help get everybody settled in before finals week."

HABIC is a nonprofit organization affiliated through the CSU College of Applied Human Sciences School of Social Work, according to its Web site. People and their pets work with HABIC staff to create and meet therapeutic goals for children and adults through a carefully planned process.

"A recent study discovered that while petting live dogs there was a increase in serotonin levels," Foster said. Serotonin is believed to influence depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety and sexuality.

Cori Knudten, a junior history major, came to see the dogs because she missed her dogs at home.

"They don't care how I do on my finals," Knudten said about her dogs.

Every hour, two different dogs arrive. The dogs are not allowed to work for more than an hour at a time to prevent them from getting stressed or overworked.

"The dogs give people something else to focus on," said Catherine Jameson, a HABIC volunteer.

Jameson's 4-year-old Greyhound, Shenzi, was quick to make friends with incoming persons and with Odin. She walked around the circle of people slowly, letting each person sit down to pet her, wagging her tail each time she met someone new.

Amanda Krull, a sophomore equine sciences major, said it's nice to play with animals and get her "pet fix" when she's away from home. She said she is more stressed at school without her pets.

"My dogs always know when I'm upset so they come and sit with me," Krull said. "They just want to be with me."

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