The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Photo credit: Nick Shockey / nshockey.express@gmail.com
A letter from the editor
February 6, 2024

Campus introduces fluffy employee; Health Services adds therapy dog in pilot program

City College’s Health Services added a 2-year-old rescue puppy to its team in a new pilot program to aid students and employees suffering from crisis situations.

Sadie, a poodle and Shih Tzu mix, debuted as City College’s therapy dog on campus for people who experience anxiety or stress.

According to Wendy Gomez, college nurse, she decided to start the training process for Sadie as a pilot program.

“There is so much more to what our students are going through. To have some kind of support is extremely important,” said Gomez. “Right now, we don’t have mental health services on campus. Our counselors are trained to deal with crises. but not on-going counseling.”

Since the start of the semester, Sadie has seen 15 official patients in crisis, Gomez said.

“What I can do in two hours, Sadie can do in minutes,” said Gomez. “Anxiety is cyclical. [Patients] feel anxious, then they feel the physical effects of anxiety: heaviness in the chest, rapid breathing or trouble breathing. That makes them panic more.”

Students in immediate need can seek help in the Counseling Center. Four counselors are always on call to assist students in crisis situations. Sadie is then brought in for crisis intervention if determined appropriate by the Health Services nurses.

“Our job is to make sure when [patients] leave here they are safe,” Gomez said. “I think [Sadie] is a positive step.”

Gomez and Sadie trained twice a day, everyday for eight months before introducing the new pilot program and bringing Sadie in as City College’s official therapy dog.
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First, she had training through Canine Good Citizen, an American Kennel Club program that promotes responsible dog ownership and encourages the training of well-mannered dogs.

Sadie went through advanced training before passing the Pet Partners Team Evaluation Aptitude Exercises, which is necessary to become a therapy dog. Her reaction to friendly strangers, other dogs, and various distractions were among the more than 20 scenarios aspiring therapy dogs must pass.

Jennifer Loza, biology major, said people are apprehensive opening up to strangers. Additional stress from everyday life like work and school can compound the need for an outlet.

“Having a therapy dog is nice because students don’t want to get deep about things,” Loza said. “There’s still an outlet for them to release their anxiety.”

Isabella Feril, nutrition major, said she has turned to animals at times to help cope with stress.

“I believe animals are a really great way to help with emotional issues, whatever they may be.” Feril said. “Cats or dogs can really sense how you’re feeling.”

Sadie takes two walks around campus a day. If students see her, they are welcome to say hello and give some love, Gomez said.

Sadie is available and on campus Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

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