What's All Fuss Over All The Pups?

What's All Fuss Over All The Pups?

Comfort dogs are on the rise these days, and I want to know why!

"Hi, my name is Becca, nice to meet you! That is such a cute dog!"

"Thanks, I got her at the humane society this weekend!"

"Oh wow, does she live in the dorm with you?"

"Well, that's what I'm trying to work on, she needs to be approved as a comfort dog first."

"What is a comfort dog?"

...And from there opens a whole can of worms.

The story above is an experience that I have had with other classmates on numerous occasions already, and I have only been at college for eight weeks. I'm not sure if Furman is an incredibly dog friendly campus, or if all these dogs live in the dorms, but I'm ready to get to the bottom of this question "why do so many students have dogs on campus?"!

Before I continue on the subject of comfort animals, I will make it known that some of the pets on campus are outside the realm of "therapy pets". I have seen a few legitimate service dogs, whether for students that are visually impaired or suffer from epilepsy or other similar disabilities. Also, I have checked the campus rules and learned that in the on campus apartments, as long all four roommates consent, pets are allowed to live in the apartments.

The subject that I am trying to address is that the seven or eight puppies I have seen around freshman housing, are referred to as "comfort pets" when asked. So to begin, I did my research. For reference throughout this article, an "emotional support pet " is "a companion animal that provides therapeutic benefit to an individual with a mental or psychiatric disability. The person seeking the emotional support animal must have a verifiable disability, and the reason cannot just be a need for companionship."

Anxiety, as well as depression, is a growing diagnosis among college students over the past few years. Following these diagnoses, the calming effect of pets has been widely accepted, so much that college campuses bring in domestic pets for stressed students to play with. Along with the growing acceptance of pets as sources of comfort, the request for these domestic pets to reside on college campuses has grown as well. However, in some cases, the permission for a comfort pet has been denied, leading to lawsuits filed against the schools. But how can administration discern between the legitimate request of a college kid with an emotional disability, and the homesick kid who just really wants a kitten?

This may not be happening on your campus, but I do know it to be true on Furman's campus, as it has become a widely debated topic among our students, saying "Are people trying to pass off their pets as therapy pets?" "How does a comfort pet actually improve the situation" "How can I get my dog approved??". In that sense, I thought that I would turn this article into a debate among other students. What are the benefits of comfort pet? Does the pet not introduce more stress by say, having another mouth to feed and another life to look after? Can anyone have their pet approved as a comfort pet, or do you have to have documentation of a disability? Leave your thoughts in the comments or share and fuel the debate about comfort pets!

Cover Image Credit: flickr

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4 Ways To Cope With Stress And Anxiety

Is the destruction of your well-being worth it for that 4.0 GPA?

It’s really easy to start a new semester with high hopes and expectations, excited for what’s to come. But, it's also really easy to slowly start to spiral downward from the heavy stress that classes, work and extracurricular activities can impose. It’s important to take the time to clock out of the things that bring stress and do what betters your emotional health. Here are four strategies you can implement during moments of excruciating stress or panic.

1. Have An Object To "Re-Focus" Yourself

Moments of panic are usually unexpected and can’t be solved by doing a relaxing face mask in the middle of class. Carrying small things in your backpack like Play-Doh, squishy balls and even pens are great tools to help you concentrate and re-focus on what you were previously doing. Things such as fidget spinners occupy a part of your brain that can provide relief from all the negative thoughts or feelings you may have. Having one is incredibly beneficial and can help you self-regulate. Also, Play-Doh is such a fun thing to distract yourself with and there are endless possibilities to what you can make with it, so you’ll never get bored.

2. Set Up A Nighttime Routine

Nighttime routines help you settle into a familiar pattern. Whether it's brushing your teeth, moisturizing, watching YouTube videos or drinking tea, establishing a routine when you’re feeling stressed will help you wind down into a familiar pattern. If you find yourself overloaded with stress while studying or working on projects, transitioning into your nighttime routine can help settle you down. One thing that’s nice to incorporate is a time before bed where you can shut down completely. Jumping right from the stresses of class websites and e-mails on your laptop to your bed isn’t an ideal thing to do. You carry the stress of what you were just looking at into a place that’s supposed to help your mind ease into rest. You don’t really want to be up for 45 minutes thinking about the essay you should’ve finished when you could be sleeping.

3. Find A Thing That Helps You Escape The Negativity

Painting, drawing, writing, journaling and creating are all things that alleviate your stress and anxiety. While journaling may not be everyone’s favorite thing, writing down all your feelings and allowing your journal to become an outlet through which you can express emotion is incredibly beneficial. Painting and drawing ideally do the same thing, but in a more visually appealing way. People start painting with one intention and then end up totally derailing from that idea, painting something that might express how they feel within themselves. Alternatively, you can just furiously scribble for the heck of it.

4. If It Feels Like Too Much, Ask For Help

Finally, if you feel like your stress is a heavyweight in your life, look into all the resources your college has to offer regarding stress and anxiety. Your stress shouldn’t be taking over your life and causing you problems within relationships and in classes. The health professionals at your school are more than willing to work with you and find a long-term solution to the stress or anxiety you have.

Obviously, a little stress is normal when you’re a student. But too much stress can inhibit you and is unhealthy. Get help if you need it and try out these methods to reduce your daily stress levels. You will thank yourself in the long-run.

Cover Image Credit: unsplash.com

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Putting The Fun Back In Funeral: Instructions For My Inevitable Death

Death sucks. Let's make mine suck less.

In the past two years, I've been surrounded by a lot of death and illness in general. My grandmother died, my father has been in and out of the hospital and my great uncle just passed. After attending my grandma's funeral, I remembered just how terrible funerals are. Not just for the expected reasons, like the fact that your loved one is dead, never coming back, and oh God, you never got to say a real goodbye, why is life so cruel. But I digress. Funerals are dull.

I know that's kind of the point, but why can't we celebrate the lives of our loved ones instead of crying about their deaths? Why is everyone wearing all black when it's the middle of summer and 98 degrees out? Why do people have to look at a dead body sitting in an expensive box that's about to be put in the ground? (Seriously, though, caskets are so expensive like, I'm pretty my uncle's casket cost more than my tuition.)

I want to make sure my death and funeral turn out as amazing as I was. Call it cliché, but I've been planning my funeral since I was a little girl. Listed below are instructions for mourning, things I want done to my body and some soft plans for my funeral.

Step One: How To Properly Mourn Becca Twiggs

I will allow one week for tears. Then get back out there and have some fun. Take whatever money I had in my bank account (which is probably not much, let's be honest) and go on a trip. If you really want to go all out, freeze my body as soon as I die so you can take me on the trip. Reenact "Weekend At Bernie's" if you want. Or find something else fun to do.

Here's an idea:

Did you know that if your loved one dies at Disney World, you can get free passes for life? I'm not saying you should do this, but you could probably find a way to sneak my body on park then re-stage my death. Just a thought.

As far as my possessions go, everything is up for grabs. I have a plethora of costumes, masks, stuffed animals, doodles, none of which are worth anything. So just take what you want.

Step Two: What To Do with The Body

DON'T BURY ME. I REPEAT: DO NOT BURY ME. The ground is for worms and sticks, not Twiggs. If I somehow end up in the ground I will come back as a zombie and kill everyone involved in that decision.

Hopefully you can find a taxidermy place that will do humans. If not, I'll settle for being cremated. My soul is most likely going to burn in hell, so my body might as well follow suit.

And think of all the fun places you can sprinkle my ashes!

Some examples:

  • Haunted Mansion at Disney World (see Step One for instructions on how to get free passes)
  • Any of my previous places of employment
  • On a plate of brownies (say the brownies were made from an old recipe of mine and that I really put my blood, sweat and tears into it)
  • Wal-Mart

Feel free to add to the list. Dead me is very flexible.

Step Three: The Funeral

No black. I want fun, bright colors. And glitter. So much glitter. When people arrive at this funeral, I want them to immediately be overwhelmed with joy. This is about celebrating my life. So far, the song list consists of "Another One Bites The Dust" and "Highway to Hell." Feel free to add to the list. Hopefully there will be karaoke.

If so inclined, all my friends can say that they were my lover in order to freak out some relatives. As stated before, caskets are too expensive. Since I will not be buried, take the money that would have been spent on a casket and get an open bar. Make sure there's good food. And an ice cream cake.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Overall, I would say that these are all reasonable requests. And if no one follows these instructions, I'll just come back and haunt all of you.

Now that I've wasted an entire morning on this, I'm going to try and be productive. My mom suggested that I could "learn how to process my emotions" instead of "making everything a joke all the time." We'll see how that works out.

Cover Image Credit: Wiki / Disney / Sleeping Beauty

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