CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A pair of canines at Queens University of Charlotte are helping ease students’ stress and anxiety.
Avery Marquis is a sophomore at Queens University. She juggles two majors, biology and international studies, she’s part of the cheerleading team and she sings in the school’s choir.
“It is stressful and it gets overwhelming,” Marquis said.
What You Need To Know
- Golden retrievers Nola and Sunshine work with the university’s health and wellness canter
- They’re available to students for relaxing walks, jogs or just hanging out with
- Sophomore Avery Marquis says the canines have helped her meet new people on campus
Marquis is among the thousands of students across North Carolina navigating the stress and anxiety of college life.
A UNC student found about 40% more students in the Tar Heel state suffered from moderate to severe anxiety than before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Marquis tries several ways to cope – from scheduling out her entire day, which she finds calming, to telling herself positive affirmations. But her favorite way to relieve stress is by hanging out with a golden retriever, Nola.
Marquis takes Nola on a walk around campus almost every day.
“At home, I have three [dogs] and I’ve gotten very accustomed, especially during COVID,” Marquis said. “And when I got to campus, I realized how much I miss that puppy love.”
Nola and another golden retriever, Sunshine, work at the university’s health and wellness center. They both help ease students’ stress through cuddles, wet kisses and exercise.
“It just takes a moment,” Marquis said. “I don’t have to think about anything… walking the dog, hanging out, as if I was at home with no stress.”
Marquis transferred to Queens in the fall from a school in Massachusetts. She worries about meeting other students during the pandemic.
“I feel like a lot of people aren’t as social as they used to be,” Marquis said.
Marquis says walking Nola around campus has also helped her meet a few friends.
“Everyone loves dogs,” Marquis said. “If you’re like, ‘Hey! You want to come to pet a dog?’ You meet new friends.”
Marquis and other students say they benefit a lot from spending just one hour with their furry companion.
“Through classes, through cheers, through everything else going on in life, I have this one thing to look forward to,” Marquis said. “I can have a little peace and mental time.”
Scientists say just 10 minutes with a dog or a cat can significantly reduce stress hormones, lower blood pressure and boost a person’s mood.