Laura Cardwell, executive director of Hand in Paw, and Vicki Shay, records manager with the organization, were on hand with their dogs (Buddy and Jed) in the Harold Wade Math and Science Building early Monday greeting students as they entered and exited the lobby area. While being offered free cups of hot chocolate, students and members of the faculty and staff at BSCC took the time to pet, rub and play with the four-legged animals.
“Buddy is a rescue [dog]. We have a fenced-in backyard, and he dug under the fence to come in. He had a clothesline tied around his neck that he had chewed in half and escaped,” said Shay, who has worked with Hand in Paw for 13 years. “He was afraid of people; he had heart worms. Somebody poked him in the eye with a stick, and it took me six months to get him to come out of my back hallway because he was just waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
Buddy, an 11-year-old border collie, approaches everyone now and loves to be petted. Shay said he is a registered therapy dog and has “done a complete 180. ... It’s a wonderful, wonderful organization and I’m very proud to be a part of it.”
More than 50 people had walked through and interacted with the furry friends before they left around 10 a.m. Monday. Student Kayla Hartley worked at the event asking people if they would like some hot chocolate and pet the dogs.
“It’s been going really great. We’ve had a lot more students that have been at this event than there have been at other events,” Hartley said. “They’ve really enjoyed it.”
Bevill’s Dean of Students Dr. Kim Ennis walked down to Wade Hall Monday and visited with Buddy and Jed.
“This is a very stressful time of the year for students when you’re coming up on the end of the semester and have those finals, and I’m such an animal lover myself,” Ennis said. “There’s nothing better than to de-stress with these beautiful animals, so I think the students are really enjoying this opportunity.”
Cardwell spoke briefly about Jed and the nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, which visits area hospitals, schools, nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities.
“I’ve had Jed for three years. He was actually found at a convenience store in Cullman. He is the most gentle dog I have ever had,” Cardwell said. “Truly, what we know with animal-assisted therapy is that it works. I mean it’s evidence based, but the cool part about it is how it feels to give your dog’s love to somebody else. I mean it really just travels up the leash to you. I could tear up about it. It’s the most wonderful experience.”
Grant Cockrell, interim director of student services at Bevill’s Jasper campus, spearheaded Monday’s “puppy break” event.
“It went great. I was surprised at how many actually stopped by,” Cockrell said. “I was real pleased with the turnout. It was a good stress reliever for them.”
BSCC’s Senior Assistant to the Personnel Director Mary Kinard grinned and laughed before exiting Wade Hall Monday morning. She delighted in petting the dogs and seeing the involvement between them and the students.
“You can’t pet them without smiling, especially as sweet as they are,” Kinard said.