It started with just a student or two. Students would come through the door, down the stairs, through the hallway, and spot them and smile: dogs.
By the time the pups had been in the Kriel Lounge in Decker College Center for about 15 minutes, the gaggle of students around them had grown and showed no sign of stopping.
Three therapy dogs were on McDaniel College's campus Tuesday as a way to help students with stress relief and homesickness.
Joanna Wattenberg, a sophomore majoring in psychology, said she loves dogs. She's got a golden retriever at home, whom she misses dearly — even more than the rest of her family, she joked.
"I haven't seen [the therapy dogs] all year, so I'm really excited," said Wattenberg, of Monrovia.
McDaniel College's Wellness Center has been bringing therapy animals to campus for four years, said Sam Soheilian, a psychologist at the Wellness Center. Tuesday's dogs were a part of KPETS — Keystone Pet Enhanced Therapy Services — an organization based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
They purposely scheduled the first visit right around midterm exams, Soheilian said. It's a great way for the students to calm down and relax during a time that's stressful.
The timing was perfect for Rachel Bolden.
The freshman majoring in biology had just finished a midterm when she walked into Decker College Center, where she came across the dogs. It's a really smart idea to have them come around this time, Bolden said, with students knee-deep in the throes of midsemester exams.
She didn't know they'd be there, so it was a nice surprise, she added.
Katie Ogorzalek, on the other hand, came out specifically to see the dogs. She knew the event was happening and had planned to be there, she said.
"I'm so excited," said Ogorzalek, a sophomore majoring in graphic design.
They've been working to bring different types of emotional support to campus, Soheilian said.
Kailey Rhone, a senior majoring in English, said she looks forward to when the therapy dogs come to campus. She loves dogs and misses hers at home.
It's really good to help with stress and feeling homesick, she said.
"My freshman year it helped a lot," Rhone added.
Plus, she said, this event really helps to bring people together.
"It's just a nice way to get a smile on their faces," Soheilian said.
This event will take place two more times this semester. Dogs from KPETS will be back in Decker College Center from 11 a.m. to noon Thursday, Nov. 10 and Wednesday, Dec. 7.