"With our new students, the response has been better than we expected," she said. "We'll try to work in some different locations on campus, and do something before midterms and finals when we know the students are really going to be stressed."
"The (KPETS) program is drawing the students out," Plevyak said. "It gives them a chance to express if they are homesick and engage in conversation. The students love dogs, and it brings them out of their shell. There's not only interaction with the dogs, but also interaction with other students while they're with the dogs."
The therapeutic power of animals is nothing new to freshman Lexi Andrea. For her senior project at Baltimore's Park School, Andrea landed an internship with KPETS. During her six weeks with the organization, Andrea and her Australian shepherd traveled to Pennsylvania to visit autistic children, senior citizens and a juvenile detention center.
"It's interesting to be on the other side of it," said Andrea, a psychology major from Towson. "I think the dogs being here on campus have only reinforced to me how beneficial the program is. It triggers positive memories and feelings. "
Ashton Leftridge couldn't get enough of the dogs. She spent an extended time with Dizzy and Sara at Whiteford Hall, then moved on to play with Remi in the Kriel Lounge.
"This reminds me of playing with my dog, and it's very soothing to be able to relate that to my home experience," said Leftridge, a freshman from Crossroads, Pa., and the owner of a purebred boxer.
"I just love dogs," she said, "and this brings me joy."