Therapy dogs help students relieve stress during Campus Events + Entertainment’s Howl-o-ween

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Photo Credit: Jacob Fraga | Daily Texan Staff

As part of an early Halloween celebration, puppies and holiday-themed festivities greeted dozens of students on campus Thursday evening.

For their Howl-o-ween event, Campus Events + Entertainment’s Asian American Culture committee offered therapy dogs, Halloween movie trivia and miniature pumpkin decorating for students to enjoy at the Shirley Bird Perry Ballroom.

“College is a brutal system, so you need ways to let your stress out, and dogs help with that,” event coordinator Ella Barwick said “I mean, they’re man’s best friend. They love you no matter what. Going up to a dog and it (being) so happy to see you just boosts your spirit. No pun intended.”

Barwick said the committee also teamed up with Therapy Pet Pals of Texas, a nonprofit that provides therapy animal visitations, to host the event. 

Attendees could also make dog toys out of old shirts donated by committee members. They could choose to keep them for their own dog or donate to Therapy Pet Pals of Texas. Barwick said any leftover dog-related items from the event will be donated to the nonprofit. 

Outside of the event, the committee encouraged people to enter a dog costume contest by submitting photos through email or social media. The photos were voted on by attendees at the event, and the winner received a basket filled with dog treats and toys.

“People like to dress their dogs in those outfits that are front-facing that have arms so when the dog is running toward you, it looks like a tiny person,” environmental engineering senior Barwick said. “I’ve seen a couple of those.”

Committee chair Tiara Boquiren said Therapy Pet Pals of Texas often partners with Campus E+E to bring its services to students.

“I think a lot of it is just to get exposure for their brand and build that networking with this audience,” nutrition senior Boquiren said. “Therapy can be for all sorts of people, and being a super stressful campus with the competitive nature and atmosphere that we have here, we think it’s really appropriate to have them here.”

Mathematics junior Meili Dubbs said she loved the dogs, but would have attended the event regardless of the dogs’ presence.

“When (students) get really stressed, they tend to hide in their rooms,” Dubbs said. “It’s good to facilitate an event where you’re not hiding in your room and you see other students are also stressed.”