Student Center hosts therapy goats

The DHS Student Center hosted therapy goats from Red Wagon Goats during this past week


Averill Payne

On Dec. 14 and 16, the DHS Student Center hosted therapy goats for students to visit during the school day. Students were able to sign up a week earlier during Advisement, and the time slots quickly filled up.

In the past, the Student Center has brought therapy dogs for students during the last week before the December break to destress from midterms, but this year the dogs were unavailable due to the risk of COVID-19  transmission through them, so the staff chose to switch to goats this year since goats have not been proven to spread the disease.

Through online research, the Student Center found therapy goats located in the Decatur area and decided to bring them in. “It gets the same benefits no matter what type of animal you’re with so we worked it out to have them come,” Evans said.

With lots of tests in the last week before the December break, the Student Center decided to bring goats as a way to help students relieve their stress.

The company that supplied the goats, Red Wagon Goats, brought eight animals. Students were able to visit in groups of ten during 30-minute sessions. The small number of students in each group ensured the safety of both the students and goats. Along with a facilitator from the company, there was Student

Center staff helping students get acclimated to the goats.

“They will get ten minutes to pet the goats… and then [the facilitator] is going to lead each group through 10-15 minutes of breathing and relaxation exercises which is what they typically do with those goats,” says Student Center counselor Kimberly Evans.

Some students appreciated both aspects of the session. “I really enjoyed the balance between just playing with the goats and also having the mindfulness exercises,” sophomore June Lee said.

Due to the high demand, some students weren’t able to get a time slot to visit the goats.

“I really hope they come back,” sophomore AJ Talmadge said.

The Student Center is already thinking about bringing the goats back in 2022 at the end of the school year to make sure more students get the opportunity to visit with them. They will use the same Google Form responses and students who weren’t able to see the goats this week will have first priority when they come back.

Students who did meet the goats had a great experience. The goats were a big hit, just as Evans and other Student Center counselors had hoped.

“It was a really fun experience,” Lee said, “it was definitely what I expected and more.”