May 2016 – Cayuga Alumni Voices

May 17th, 2016 | Comments Off on May 2016 – Cayuga Alumni Voices | Posted in Magazine Covers

Inauguration of Cayuga’s Eighth President

May 17th, 2016 | Comments Off on Inauguration of Cayuga’s Eighth President | Posted in Cover Story

Editor’s Note: Cover Photo courtesy of The Citizen.

0028With much anticipation, faculty, staff, local dignitaries and invited guests gathered on the Auburn Campus to observe the inauguration of Cayuga Community College’s eighth president on April 15th.  The formal ceremony began with the Syracuse Scottish Pipe Band and Professor Steve Keeler serving as Mace Bearer.  As College President Dr. Brian M. Durant entered, the atmosphere became benevolent with expectation.  Our National Anthem was sung by Kelly Newton, Class of 2016; Jeffrey L. Edwards, Chair of the Board of Trustees, welcomed guests; and Dr. Anne Herron, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, served as master of ceremonies.

During the event, special greetings were given by the Honorable Keith Batman, Chair of the Cayuga County Legislature; Foundation Director Guy Cosentino; Faculty Representative Eric Zizza; and Student Trustee Molly Sharples.  The group spoke about Dr. Durant’s focused priorities which include the importance of supporting excellence in teaching strategies to increase student success outcomes. “At every meeting, Dr. Durant always asks the same question, “How does this help our students?” CCCC Foundation Executive Director Guy Cosentino said. “He reminds us that our most important mission is to make sure our students get a great education.”  Former colleague and guest speaker, Dr. Kristine Duffy, President of SUNY Adirondack agreed that his work is unwaveringly student-focused.

0178Dr. Linda VanBuskirk, Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees and Co-Chair of the Presidential Search Committee, presented Dr. Durant followed by the  Investiture conducted by Johanna Duncan-Poitier, SUNY Senior Vice Chancellor for Community Colleges and the Education Pipeline.  During his Presidential address, Durant said “Ultimately, all that we do is about the student. We have an emphasis on student success. Student outcomes in the areas of graduation, retention, and individual goal completion will always be our focus for continuous improvement. Student success is institutional success.”  He laid out his vision for the college and spoke about other areas of concentration including expanding strategic partnerships with K-12 and local industries, and exploring the impact of student housing.

Addressing the assembly, the new President said, “This is a tremendous honor.  It is my absolute pleasure to serve as President of this fine institution.” He concluded his inaugural address by stressing the importance of teamwork and unity as the college moves forward.  “When we all commit toward the same collective good, together, we will achieve something extraordinary.”

The Sky Is Not the Limit

May 17th, 2016 | Comments Off on The Sky Is Not the Limit | Posted in In Case You Missed It

Editor’s Note:  Major Sean J. VanHoltz ’87’s article was originally run in the fall/winter 2009 edition of The Spartan.

VanHoltz ski shotMajor Sean J. VanHoltz ’87 graduated cum laude from CCC with a degree in telecommunications, followed by a B.S. in Aviation Business Management from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, FL, in 1991. After working as an Aviation Insurance Underwriter, Sean attended USAF Pilot Training and served six years full-time in the U.S. Air Force. This gave Sean the education and experience he needed to work for Gulfstream Aerospace and Flight Safety International in Savannah, GA, as a Gulfstream GV pilot instructor.

In 1999, Sean was hired by US Airways and became an instructor pilot in the Airbus A320, while maintaining his operational currency and flying combat sorties in the C-130 with the Air National Guard as a Traditional Guardsman. Immediately following 9/11, Sean accepted a voluntary furlough from US Airways and returned to active duty military status at the 174th Fighter Wing in Syracuse, NY.

While at the 174th he was selected as the Director of Operations of the 274th Air Support Operations Squadron, a special operations unit where he was trained as a Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) qualified Air Liaison Officer (ALD). During this assignment he obtained experience in the F-16D “Viper.”

T1The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recruited VanHoltz as a Federal Regulatory and Law Enforcement Agent in 2004 to help build their aviation security program. Subsequently, he returned to Traditional Guardsman status with the Air National Guard.

Due to his unusual background, Major VanHoltz was selected as an Interagency Liaison Officer to the Department of Homeland Security in Washington, DC.  After four years in this position, he was selected to work on the Joint Staff at Headquarters NORAD and USNORTHCOM in Colorado Springs, CO, on active duty status.

VanHoltz aviationnet idCurrently, VanHoltz is scheduled to begin Joint Instructor Training at Naval Air Station Pensacola, FL, in the T-1 Jayhawk in the fall of 2009. He will spend the next four years as a Weapons System Officer Instructor teaching USAF, Navy and Marine officers low-level radar navigation, electronic warfare, and weapons employment. His student officers will earn their wings through this advanced flight training program and will subsequently follow a training pipeline to the F-15E Strike Eagle, F18 E/F Super Hornet, B-1B Bomer, B-52 Bomber, or the EA-6B.

The next step, following this assignment, will be to either attend F-15E WSO training or return to the 174th FW to fly the new MQ-9 Reaper until his retirement. His future plans include obtaining his Ph.D. while working retirement days as a college professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, while flight instructing as a hobby and telling war stories.

So you see, the sky is not the limit after leaving CCC.

Alumni Voices With Joshua Cradduck ’07

May 17th, 2016 | Comments Off on Alumni Voices With Joshua Cradduck ’07 | Posted in Alumni News & Events

Alumnus Joshua Cradduck ’07, Assignment Desk Supervisor with Time Warner Cable was on campus in February as part of the Alumni Voices program, which was co-sponsored by Professor Steve Keeler and SOMA.  During the event Cradduck spoke with students about his responsibilities at TWC and fielded questions about his current position and his past experience as a reporter.

Josh explained that he reads 20 papers each morning to stay on top of the news in 25 counties; areas which include Syracuse to Plattsburg and Utica to Buffalo.  He explained that when he is attending to the Assignment Desk, he monitors a bank of police scanners, follows real time calls on an active media website, while channeling phone call coming into the news desk. He explained, “It’s not just news, its public relations.” While his position is challenging, he finds it rewarding; “Every day is different, every day is an adventure.”

To read more about our Alumni Voices events, check out the spring issue of Spartan.  It can be found on the college webpage at:

John Lamphere ’74 Wins Award

May 17th, 2016 | Comments Off on John Lamphere ’74 Wins Award | Posted in Alumni News & Events

John Lamphere has been selected as the Weedsport Central School District Graduate of Distinction for 2016.  The Weedsport CSD will honor its distinguished alumni at the annual Alumni Banquet on June 18 at the Jr.-Sr. High School.  John Lamphere is a 1974 graduate of Cayuga Community College and sits on Cayuga’s Alumni Association’s Board of Director’s, serving as Secretary.  He is the Associate Vice President and Dean of Cayuga’s Fulton Campus.

Joh Lamphere 1974 -CCC John Lamphere 2016

Trip Announcements

May 17th, 2016 | Comments Off on Trip Announcements | Posted in Alumni News & Events
*Click images below to enlarge.2016 Trips Poster GB Poster 2016

The Collegian Hosted SGO Presidential Debate

May 16th, 2016 | Comments Off on The Collegian Hosted SGO Presidential Debate | Posted in College News & Events

The first ever SGO Presidential debate took place on April 6th in the student lounge on the Auburn campus.  Organized and directed by Collegian editor Caleb Slater, much of the Collegian staff was on hand to work the event.

Moderated by Collegian’s political correspondent Kevin Shutter, candidates Steve Brewer and Sheldon Ryan were fielded questions submitted by students attending the event, as well as questions prepared by Collegian staff through campus research on the top issues of concern.

Collegian advisor Mary Merritt said she was very pleased with the turnout, which included CCC President Dr. Durant and CCCC Foundation Director Guy Cosentino.

After voting which took place the week of April 18th, Steve Brewer was determined the winner.  Mr. Brewer is involved in several clubs on campus including Phi Theta Kappa and Tutor Club.  He plans to become more visible and involved on campus.

National Criminal Justice Month

May 16th, 2016 | Comments Off on National Criminal Justice Month | Posted in College News & Events

CRIMINAL JUSTICE FAIRActivities sponsored by CCC Criminal Justice Department were held throughout March on the Auburn campus, which included The Criminal Justice Fair.  The Fair provided an opportunity for students to learn straight from the professionals “the good, the bad and the ugly” involved with a criminal justice career.  Teri Misiaszek, Assistant Professor with the Criminal Justice Department said, “They get what they call a ‘CSI’ effect by watching television; students see the dramatization from a lot of TV shows, but then they realize that it’s something totally different once they get into a field.” Police and corrections agencies from around New York, several federal agencies, community corrections, human services departments, law offices, and security firms attended the event.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE FAIR-2During the month, several lectures took place with Faculty members David Connelly and Doug Kinney, Director of Public Safety; along with Cayuga County Sheriff Department Sergeant Detective Cornelius and Detective Franklin.  Students also attended a town hall meeting that was held on Cayuga’s Auburn campus with U.S. Rep. John Katko, on the topic of the heroin epidemic in Cayuga County.  Other activities including games like CJ Bingo and a tour of the Auburn Correctional Facility.  More information about the CJ Department can be found on their Facebook page at:

2016 Cayuga Softball

May 16th, 2016 | Comments Off on 2016 Cayuga Softball | Posted in Athletics, College News & Events

Danielle Vuillemot at batThe 2016 softball season began with games in Maryland and Pennsylvania, with the team going 3-4-1 over that span. The Spartans got wins over Harford CC (MD), Northampton CC (PA) and Lehigh-Carbon CC (PA), while the second game at Northampton was called due to darkness resulting in a tie.

This year’s captains are sophomore McKenzie Harris of Liverpool; freshman Danielle Vuillemot of Auburn; and freshman Miranda McGloon of Waterloo.  Early in the season, freshman shortstop Jamison Valentino of Union Springs led the Spartans with a .632 batting average while McKenzie Harris hit .444 and was the team’s leading pitcher. Sophomore Cassie Weeks of Weedsport hit .478 with 4 doubles in the young season.

Harris -pitcherEntering the season’s final week during playoffs early May, the women’s softball program was battling for a NJCAA Region III post-season berth. In the last week of April, Cayuga got a big doubleheader sweep of Niagara CC to keep their hopes alive. It wasn’t easy for the Spartans who had to score 4 runs in their last at-bat to win game one, before winning the second game 15-6. The middle of the Spartan lineup, #3 hitter McKenzie Harris and Danielle Vuillemot went an unbelievable 20 for 20 on the day, a perfect 10 for 10 for each in both games. Vuillemot hit 2 homeruns in game one and drove in the game winning walk-off RBIs with a double. Harris was also the pitcher of record getting both wins on the mound.

Freshman centerfielder Danielle Vuillemot was named OC Sports NJCAA National Division III Softball Player-of-the-Week for April 25.  McKenzie and fellow teammate Danielle were named to the 2016 Mid-State Athletic All-Conference Softball Team.  Harris made the All-Conference Team at the Utility/DH position, while pitching most of the season for the Spartans; she hit .570 with 18 doubles, 4 triples and a homerun as the number one pitcher for the Spartans, she won 11 games and had a 3.17 ERA.  Vuillemot made the All-Conference Team as an outfielder, the freshmen centerfielder had a .519 batting average which included 7 doubles, 4 triples, and 6 homeruns.

The Spartans last week of regular season games ended with home weekend doubleheaders at Port Byron HS on Saturday May 7th vs. Clinton and Sunday May 8th vs. Columbia-Greene. For an update on their season, click here.

2016 Spartan Softball Team

Four Bowlers Headed for USBC Sectional Singles Tournament

May 16th, 2016 | Comments Off on Four Bowlers Headed for USBC Sectional Singles Tournament | Posted in Athletics, College News & Events
Spartan Bowling Brandon Cecchini of Union Springs, Brandon Gallagher of Pawling, NY, Wyatt Hasty  of Sherrill, and Eric Hodson of Auburn all qualified for the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) Singles Sectional Tournament that was hosted by 30 Strikes Lanes in Stratford, NJ in March.

For more information on the Spartan bowlers click here.

CA$H Program

May 16th, 2016 | Comments Off on CA$H Program | Posted in College News & Events
Professor Dawn Matijas ’96 was proud to announce that during the Cayuga CA$H Program, students prepared 542 tax returns, with refunds totaling $930,930 and EIC (Earned Income Tax Credit) totaling $374,862. This was the 11th year of the program.

David Evans, Austin Carosella, Brittany Hawley-Coit, Professor Dawn Matijas-Czolowski ‘96, Jennifer Meyer

David Evans, Austin Carosella, Brittany Hawley-Coit, Professor Dawn Matijas-Czolowski ‘96, Jennifer Meyer

Celebrating Peggy!

May 16th, 2016 | Comments Off on Celebrating Peggy! | Posted in Foundation News & Events
Guy Cosentino, Foundation Director; Abbie Connors (2016-2017 Peggy Carroway Scholarship winner), Amy Walker, and Steve Brewer.

Guy Cosentino, Foundation Director; Abbie Connors (2016-2017 Peggy Carroway Scholarship winner), Amy Walker, and Steve Brewer.

The Auburn campus Tutor Club invited family, friends, community members, students, faculty and staff to a gathering on St. Patrick’s Day to celebrate the life of Peggy Carroway; dear friend and colleague to many.

Tutor Club Co-Presidents Steve Brewer and Amy Walker welcomed the group; and because Peggy loved St. Patrick’s Day and Irish music, Rebecca McDonald, recipient of the Peggy Carroway Scholarship, sang and the Crane Irish Dancers performed.

Peggy’s husband Ed and brother, Tom Ashe shared some words about Peggy before the group participated in a balloon launch in the campus quad.  The event helped to raise money for the CCCC Foundation Peggy Carroway Scholarships. So far over $3,000 has been raised.  If you would like to make a donation in memory of Peggy, you may send you check in care of the CCCC Foundation at 197 Franklin Street, Auburn, NY  13021.

Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness on Fulton Campus

May 16th, 2016 | Comments Off on Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness on Fulton Campus | Posted in Fulton Campus News

In March the Student Government Organization and ARISE of Oswego County sponsored events on the Fulton Campus in support of Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Week.  Sincere thanks went out to all those who participated.  Many showed up dressed in green on St. Patrick’s Day to show their support for this important cause!

St. Patrick's Day - Fulton Campus-CROPPED

Cayuga’s Fulton Campus Inducts Its Largest Honor Society Cohort Ever

May 16th, 2016 | Comments Off on Cayuga’s Fulton Campus Inducts Its Largest Honor Society Cohort Ever | Posted in Fulton Campus News

The Cayuga Community College Fulton campus honor society Phi Theta Kappa held its spring induction ceremony April 17 in the events center on the Fulton Campus.  The college’s chapter, Beta Tau Iota, inducted 38 new members, the largest induction to date held at the Fulton Campus.  To qualify, students must have a minimum grade point average of 3.5 and maintain a high academic standing throughout their enrollment at Cayuga.  Guest speakers who welcomed and congratulated the stellar students included College President Dr. Brian Durant and associate vice president and CCC alumnus John Lamphere ’74. 

Phi Theta Kappa

The Fulton Campus Phi Theta Kappa, Beta Tau Iota Chapter Spring Inductees:

Kathleen Alfano Jennifer L. James
Jennifer Lynn Allen Elizabeth Lambert
Heather Brumbaugh Dennis Lassen
Carrie Burd Marissa Leach
John Carbonaro Delainey Lecuyer
Lindsey Carolynn Caswell Serina Lewis–Galla
Lisa Alaska Church Kayli Moody
Brittany Cimilluca Patrick Murray
Kayla Cordone Jacqueline O’Brien
Amanda Deavers Sandra L. Pelkey
Peter D. Denton Meghan Pacheco
Jessica Doherty Lindsay Rollson
Joseph Fernandez Taylor Simpson
Kara Friot Montanna Smith
Laurie Ellen Goodall Jessica Taylor
Ashley Goodwin Claudia Wheeler
Lucille Halstead Cynthia Wild
Nicole Herron Julianna Zabala
Sarabeth Hogan
Kristy Hutchins

10 Health Benefits of Owning a Pet

May 16th, 2016 | Comments Off on 10 Health Benefits of Owning a Pet | Posted in Lifestyle

shutterstock_148172258Pet owners know how much their furry friend improves their quality of life. But it’s not all about unconditional love—although that actually provides a wellness boost, too. On an emotional level, owning a pet can decrease depression, stress and anxiety; health-wise, it can lower your blood pressure, improve your immunity and even decrease your risk of heart attack and stroke. But the positives don’t stop there. Read on to discover all of the incredible health benefits that can come with owning a pet.

Decreases Stress

University of New York at Buffalo, researchers found that when conducting a stressful task, people experienced less stress when their pets were with them than when a spouse, family member or close friend was nearby. Promises Treatment Centers, which specializes in addiction, not only recommends its patients consider getting a pet, but even allows pets in its rehabilitation facilities, according to David Sack, MD, CEO of Promises. “One of Promises’ core beliefs is that we need to remove obstacles that prevent people from getting help,” Dr. Sack says. “We are committed to making Promises a safe and reassuring homelike environment. And what could be more like home than to have your pet accompany you?”Photo: Thinkstock

Lowers Blood Pressure

While some studies have found a stronger connection than others, having a pet has the potential to lower blood pressure, especially in hypertensive or high-risk patients, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “If you have a dog around, your blood pressure is lower,” says Marty Becker, DVM, veterinary consultant for Good Morning America and author of the upcoming book Your Dog: The Owner’s Manual. “A lot of it goes back to reducing stress: You might lose your job, your house, your 401(k)—but you’ll never lose the unconditional love of your pet.”

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The Health Benefits of Dogs and Cats

May 16th, 2016 | Comments Off on The Health Benefits of Dogs and Cats | Posted in Lifestyle

How Caring for Pets can Help You Deal with Depression, Anxiety, and Stress

The Health Benefits of PetsIf you’ve ever owned a pet, you already know how much fun and affection they can bring. But did you know that pets also come with some pretty powerful mental and physical health benefits? Dogs in particular can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, ease loneliness, encourage exercise and playfulness, and even improve your cardiovascular health. Caring for a dog can help children grow up more secure and active or provide valuable companionship for older adults. Perhaps most importantly, though, a dog can add real joy and unconditional love to your life.

How do dogs improve mood and health?

More than any other animal, dogs have evolved to become acutely attuned to humans and our behavior and emotions. While dogs are able to understand many of the words we use, they’re even better at interpreting our tone of voice, body language, and gestures. And like any good human friend, a loyal dog will look into your eyes to gauge your emotional state and try to understand what you’re thinking and feeling (and to work out when the next walk or treat might be coming, of course).

While most dog owners are clear about the immediate joys that come with sharing their lives with canine companions, many remain unaware of the physical and mental health benefits that can also accompany the pleasure of playing with or snuggling up to a furry friend. It’s only recently that studies have begun to scientifically explore the benefits of the human-animal bond. The American Heart Association has linked the ownership of pets, especially dogs, with a reduced risk for heart disease and greater longevity.

Studies have also found that:

  • Dog owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets.
  • People with dogs have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those without pets. One study even found that when people with borderline hypertension adopted dogs from a shelter, their blood pressure declined significantly within five months.
  • Playing with a dog or cat can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax.
  • Pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels (indicators of heart disease) than those without pets.
  • Heart attack patients with dogs survive longer than those without.
  • Pet owners over age 65 make 30 percent fewer visits to their doctors than those without pets.

One of the reasons for these therapeutic effects is that dogs (and cats) fulfill the basic human need to touch. Even hardened criminals in prison have shown long-term changes in their behavior after interacting with dogs, many of them experiencing mutual affection for the first time. Stroking, hugging, or otherwise touching a loving animal can rapidly calm and soothe us when we’re stressed or anxious. The companionship of a pet can also ease loneliness, and most dogs are a great stimulus for healthy exercise, which can substantially boost your mood and ease depression.

How can dogs help you make healthy lifestyle changes?

Adopting healthy lifestyle changes plays an important role in easing symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, bipolar disorder, and PTSD. Caring for a dog can help you make healthy lifestyle changes by:

  • Increasing exercise. Taking a dog for a walk, hike, or run are fun and rewarding ways to fit healthy daily exercise into your schedule. Studies have shown that dog owners are far more likely to meet their daily exercise requirements—and exercising every day is great for the animal as well. It will deepen the connection between you, eradicate most behavior problems in dogs, and keep your pet fit and healthy.
  • Providing companionship. Companionship can help prevent illness and even add years to your life, while isolation and loneliness can trigger symptoms of depression. Caring for a living animal can help make you feel needed and wanted, and take the focus away from your problems, especially if you live alone. Most dog and cat owners talk to their pets, some even use them to work through their troubles. And nothing beats loneliness like coming home to a wagging tail and wet kisses.
  • Helping you meet new people. Dogs can be a great social lubricant for their owners, helping you start and maintain new friendships. Dog owners frequently stop and talk to each other on walks, hikes, or in a dog park. Dog owners also meet new people in pet stores, clubs, and training classes.
  • Reducing anxiety. The companionship of a dog can offer comfort, help ease anxiety, and build self-confidence for people anxious about going out into the world. Because dogs live in the moment—they don’t worry about what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow—they can help you become more mindful and appreciate the joy of the present.
  • Adding structure and routine to your day. Dogs require a regular feeding and exercise schedule. Having a consistent routine keeps a dog balanced and calm—and it can work for you, too. No matter your mood—depressed, anxious, or stressed—one plaintive look from your dog and you’ll have to get out of bed to feed, exercise, and care for your pet.
  • Providing sensory stress relief. Touch and movement are two healthy ways to quickly manage stress. Stroking a dog lowers blood pressure and can help you quickly feel calmer and less stressed.

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The Benefits of Pets (Why Pets Help Kids)

May 16th, 2016 | Comments Off on The Benefits of Pets (Why Pets Help Kids) | Posted in Lifestyle

Manners & Responsibility: Raising Responsible Pet Owners

shutterstock_227100319Children love their pets — and for good reason. Creatures large and small teach, delight, and offer a special kind of companionship.

Everyone knows that kids love animals. A quick safari through your child’s bedroom will remind you just how densely imaginary critters populate the storybooks, movies, music, toys, decor, and clothes of childhood. In real life, the amount of money we spend on our pets has nearly doubled in the past 10 years, rising to more than $38 billion, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association. That figure dwarfs the toy business ($23 billion) and candy industry ($24 billion).

Overall, an estimated 4 in 10 children begin life in a family with domestic animals, and as many as 90 percent of all kids live with a pet at some point during their childhood, says Gail F. Melson, PhD, professor emeritus of developmental studies at Purdue University, in Indiana, and the author of Why the Wild Things Are: Animals in the Lives of Children.

When I was growing up, I always had at least one dog padding beside me on every adventure, and my wife was raised on a farm. So we planned all along to make animals a part of our child’s life, and we are delighted by how enthusiastically our daughter, Natalie, has embraced pets. Her natural zeal and passion for critters of all kinds has led to our current menagerie of one German shepherd, three cats, a freshwater aquarium, a confoundingly long-lived tank of mail order Sea-Monkeys, and, because we live on 4 1/2 acres of Pennsylvania woods, an endless series of cameo appearances by turtles, mice, moles, frogs, toads, tadpoles, ducks, geese, and slugs — to name just a few of the creatures that have come to visit.

All these beasts have been beneficial to Natalie’s development, but we’ve been surprised by how wide-ranging those benefits have been. Like most parents, my wife and I counted on the commonsense idea that having pets around would help teach our daughter responsibility, and maybe empathy. But we’ve also learned that the presence of animals in our house helps foster her emotional, cognitive, social, and physical development. And I’ve discovered there’s plenty of solid evidence to back that up.

Here are five reasons to let the fur fly in your home.

How Pets Help with Learning

While book groups are the rage among her mother’s friends, Natalie has her own reading tribe: We often find her curled up in her bed or lying in a den of blankets in a quiet nook of the house, reading to one or more of her cats. She pets them as she reads, stops to show them pictures and ask them questions. She even reassures them during scary parts of the story.

That’s no surprise, says Mary Renck Jalongo, PhD, education professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and author of The World of Children and Their Companion Animals. Educators have long known that bringing therapy animals (mostly dogs) into schools helps developmentally challenged kids learn. Now they are finding that all children can benefit from the presence of a nonjudgmental pal with paws. In one study, children were asked to read in front of a peer, an adult, and a dog. Researchers monitored their stress levels, and found that kids were most relaxed around the animal, not the humans. “If you’re struggling to read and someone says, ‘Time to pick up your book and work,’ that’s not a very attractive offer,” Dr. Jalongo says. “Curling up with a dog or cat, on the other hand, is a lot more appealing.”

How Pets Provide Comfort

In another study, children were asked what advice they would give less-popular kids for making friends. The top answer didn’t focus on a cool toy or must-have sneakers. It was: Get a pet. Whether a hamster or a horse, Dr. Jalongo says, an animal gives a child something to talk about and a shared interest with other kids.

Animals are also a great source of comfort. Dr. Melson asked a group of 5-year-old pet owners what they did when they felt sad, angry, afraid, or when they had a secret to share. More than 40 percent spontaneously mentioned turning to their pets. “Kids who get support from their animal companions were rated by their parents as less anxious and withdrawn,” she says.

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