Pet Therapy by Sofia Ayres-Aronson

The brisk air of the cloudy morning when we drove to Amish country to choose a puppy is forever stamped in my memory. There were two puppies when we arrived at the gas station-brother and sister-but only one was running around like a maniac. She yipped and yapped while scampering around the tiny clearing, tangled up in the leash her owner had dropped, unperturbed by our shouts. She was quite obviously a lunatic, and I loved it.

Cocoa was an enormous help to me while I was recovering from my anxiety. I spent as much time with my little puppy as I possibly could. I loved playing tug and fetch with her, giving her banana treats, and giving her massages. Taking Cocoa for walks encouraged me to get out of the house and exercise for hours around the park. Having her company made it easier for me to interact with others. After all, everyone likes dogs, so any lull in a conversation could be diverted by turning the attention to my adorable but mildly smelly bundle of fluff.

My canine success story is not at all unique. Researchers believe that humans have lived with dogs for 50,000 years and have been comforted by them since they were first domesticated 15,000 years ago (Ernst). The first known animal-assisted therapy was documented in England in 1792 at the York Retreat, an asylum for the mentally ill. Sponsored by the Society of Friends, the York Retreat provided patients with farm animals like ducks who, according to Quaker philanthropist William Tuke, could “enhance the humanity of the emotionally ill” (Jackson). Tuke, whose influence was pivotal in the development of humane treatment methods, observed that the company of animals soothed the patients and sometimes rendered the need for drugs and restraints unnecessary.

Over the course of the next few centuries, mental institutions all across Europe incorporated animal-assisted therapy into their treatment and noticed substantial improvements in many patients’ mood and behavior. Animal-assisted therapy was first recognized by the United States as a viable treatment option in 1919, when St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, DC first incorporated animals into their treatment curriculum at the recommendation of the Secretary of the Interior (Jackson, Nalette). Therapy expanded to veterans with PTSD in 1942 at the Pawling Air Force Convalescent Hospital in New York (Nalette). The benefits of animal companionship even caught the attention of the world-famous Austrian neurologist Dr. Sigmund Freud, who incorporated his dog Jo-Fi into his clinical practice after observing that the dog “had a calming influence on his patients” (Brady).

The benefits of animal companionship can be enjoyed whether the interaction takes the form of a professional therapy setting or is simply the activity of taking a family pet on a walk, like my time with my dog Cocoa. While animal-assisted therapy is not effective for everyone and should never be substituted for life-saving medication, animal companionship can, in the words of Dr. Sussman, “decrease depression, anxiety, and sympathetic nervous system arousal in the owner” (Jackson). The comfort and relief that a friendly animal may provide to a human in distress, either physically or psychologically, should not be underestimated. Today, the animal-assisted therapy that probably began with cavemen and wolves is widely respected as a possible treatment method for patients, whether they suffer from depression, heart problems, or if they simply need a fluffy animal to help them recover from a rough workday (Landau).

Looking back to the beginning of my four years with Cocoa, I am certain that she was the crucial aspect to my successful recovery. Whether we are playing fetch, taking a walk, or snuggling, just focusing on my dog’s happiness centers my thoughts and allows me to ignore everything else. While my time with Cocoa does not qualify as a conclusive data-based study, I can personally attest to the advantages of animal companionship that provoked William Tuke to encourage patient-animal interaction. Not only am I far more relaxed because of my dog, but Cocoa has also learned the words “banana” and “sit.” I am still working on not overthinking, and Cocoa is working on “stay,” but I am confident that together, we will get there in the end.


Works Cited


Banks, Banks. “The Effects of Group and Individual Animal-Assisted Therapy on Loneliness in Resident of Long-Term Care Facilities.” Institute of Translational Health ServicesPure, Scopus, & Elsevier Fingerprint Engine. 11 December 2017.


Herzog, Hal. “Does Animal-Assisted Therapy Really Work?” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, 17 November 2014. Web. 30 November 2017.


Ernst, Lorraine. “Animal-Assisted Therapy: An Exploration of its History, Healing Benefits, and How Skilled Nursing Facilities Can Set up Programs.”Managed Health Care Connect. HMP Communications LLC, 2 October 2014. Web. 30 November 2017.

Marino, Lori.



Nalette, Barbara.


The Old and the New By Mattie Conley

I just finished reading the book American Gods by Neil Gaiman. The crazy cast of characters, gripping plot, and Gaimain’s unique style made it a really great read, but there is one thing that could have made it better: annotations.

I read American Gods on a Kindle, so I was unable to mark up the book, which (I was somewhat surprised to find) really annoyed me. When I was younger, I hated the idea of writing in a book; I loved the clean look of pristine pages. Now however, I’ve happily fallen into the habit of marking up the books I read for class, and American Gods marked one of the first books that I’ve read for fun that I felt a strong desire to annotate. There were passages I saw that really stood out and details I noticed that I was sure would combine in some important ways (I was often right, but my predictions were often at least a little off). I would have loved to put pen to paper in the margins of the book, to respond and analyze and highlight, but on the Kindle my ability to do so was essentially nonexistent.

There are benefits to both physical books and electronic readers, but books hold the definite upper-hand in terms of the ability to annotate. Electronic readers have come a long way, and do offer benefits like Internet access that readers can use to add to their reading experience. However, there are certainly improvements left to be made. Hopefully, future devices will be designed so that people can more easily connect with the text. I certainly wouldn’t mind a feature that would allow me to add comments in the margins my digital books, for example.

The rise of the Internet age has spurred fears that the era of print will eventually come to an end and that books will fade away, a point which I found ironic in connection to the themes of American Gods. We are at an intersection between the old and the new, but that does not mean that one must eliminate the other. There are ways to reconcile the two, if we are open-minded and creative enough to find them.

The Ways in Which High School Was and Was Not like High School Musical.

Just like any other Disney Channel fanatic born between 1998 and 2003, I was a huge High School Musical fan. I had the DVD’s, the soundtrack, and all of the merch. Due to this completely understandable tween obsession, I had very high expectations for High School.

Similarities and Differences between High School Musical and Shaker Heights High School.

  1. First of all, the colors. When I walked into the highschool and saw the red and white raider, I was immediately brought back to the days of the Wildcats.
  2. We both have talented, spirited basketball teams.
  3. Your parent might be your teacher #awk

The similarities conclude there, and so now I am going to resentfully talk about the ways in which my journey did not resemble Gabriella’s.

  1. First of all, there is no cute guy making creme brulee (that I know of, if there is hit me up).
  2. The mathletes can dance and probably be accepted by their friends too.
  3. I personally have never been invited to a New Years Karaoke party (which I think needs to change immediately).
  4. Sharpay’s pink locker with a full body mirror, I wish??!!
  5. People break out singing Lil Uzi not original musical numbers
  6. Instead of your parents pushing you to play basketball, they push you towards the most affordable college
  7. The lunch rooms are NOT as big, as cliquey, or as musical.
  8. Lastly, the dance moves are NOT as fire.

Spring or Winter by Phillip Kalafatis

Every day I wake up and there is either snow or rain on the ground, part of me withers. I just want some warm weather, that doesn’t last only a day. It feels like Mother Nature is playing with us by teasing us with what we could have. It’s March and some days it’s deep winter and other days a nice balmy spring.

Is it spring or winter?


The people, and by the people I mean me, demand answers. Who am I demanding answers from? Anyone who can help. Any deity/entity/meteorologist. I used to think that I was a winter person, but I have figured out that I can never be a Cleveland winter person.


And maybe that’s it. Actually, that probably is the reason. It’s not spring yet. It may “technically” be spring for other places and according to the calendar, but not here.


I have hope that soon spring will come and winter will finally, at last, relinquish its hold on us.



Be Kind by Isabela Carroll

There’s a lot of sh*t in the world.

In Human Rights & Conflict, we discussed bystanders in the case of: the Holocaust, Kitty Genovese, David Cash and god knows how many others. I listened as each comment came back to blame.

“How long should we give a bystander until it’s their fault?”

“How should we punish bystanders?”

“What makes people act this way?”

When do we step in and when do we protect ourselves?”

Until I couldn’t take it any longer, why were we focusing on the punishment of others rather than those who had stood up?”

I was seven when my mom and I were in the car listening to NPR.

At the same time, Wesley Autrey was fifty and on at the NY Subway when a man fell on the train tracks. Autrey laid on top of the man as the train passed and an inch more would have decapitated both of them.  When Autrey was interviewed, he said,


“I did what I felt was right.”

This stuck with me.

We’ve also talked about indifference in relation to actions in Human Rights, how there is nothing worse than being indifferent because at least when you hate you care.

Recently, I’ve become aware of all the instances when people are just mean. Once you add this in person contact with all the swamp of horror stories, you become caked in this dark sludge of indifference.

After being a concessions staff member for a school production, I became stuck in a good bit of sludge. Through this draining job I came to appreciate my instances with Carlos the janitor, who kept me company down in the basement. We were all exhausted and stressed, yet Carlos stood their playing salsa music with a calm smile as people walked past. I remember once he even said, “life is great what’s not to be happy for?” He is someone who goes out of his way to be kind, and because of it if you ever ask someone about the Cuban janitor their face will light up as they exclaim“Carlos!” Now I imagine Carlos doing the merengue with his mop to wipe away a grimy day.

I guess my point in this blog is a reminder that being kind is takes so little. We have such an affect on others, so why not cut the person who bummed into you a break and talk a little softer to those you oversee?

A gesture, no matter how small, is always appreciated.

(they/them) Pt. 1 by Jocelyn Ting

Kenny runs a bookstore.
They plop their keys in the drawer, shove off their sneakers and rub their glasses on their protruding breast pocket, scrunching their nose for a closer look. There are bubble stains from the rain.  Failing to feel the dust-gathering cloth in their manual investigation under the counter, Kenny blinks and replaces their spectacles. The rims rest against cloudy brunette eyes, drooping slightly like broad oak doors on cheap, transplanted hinges.
Determined to make the most of a diluted start to the day (rain always makes the bones shudder), Kenny wriggles their feet into the shoes left by the Christmas party elves last winter. “Hehe, warmmm”, swaying they hug themselves and twirl blowing a kiss at the money fountain, the winding staircase, the festering books. Rejuvenated, they pull off the slippers, bring them lovingly to their cheeks, and place them back in their hatbox.
They survey their kingdom, overwhelmed with all the nothingness to be done. The proverbial cuckoo clocks squawks 1 pm, disturbing the dust haze.  Kenny flips the hanging tavern sign to open and flickers on the neon lights.
Young brunchers start to trickle in, heavy, cocooned in their midday nap. Perusing is today’s Hot! New! Dance! and they must grasp the moves quickly. Arms lift, heads cock to an intrigued angle, the frills of one’s scarf quivers as he takes a quick glance down to the left to see what his neighbor is doing. Kenny beams at the fullness of it all, the quiet milling. People come up to them and ask if they may take from the bowl on the counter. Of course! Take as much as you like! Kenny knew the sweets would be good for business if not for their customer’s gums.

A Friend in an Enemy by Indee Sanders

Don’t underestimate me.

I’ll expand your eyes to the size of this solar system, keep them expanding.

Reprimanding you incessantly for the blunders you did not make.

For mistakes that weren’t mistakes but I’ll say they were until you break.

I am the nagging in your ears, these jagged nails scraping against a chalkboard.

And when you’re bored, prick you like the loose wire in your bra.

Be the clenching in your jaw.


I am red but I’ll make you the blue of our polluted sky

Be the cause of every raindrop in your tired eye

I’m not a woman nor am I guy

but I’ll try

and affect you more than a person ever could

Chastise you more than a person ever should

Snap you like the brittle wood of an uneven floorboard


In public, I’ll be the Janis Joplin in your throat

Make you the boat

seesawing on angry water and broken waves

Stay here, like the itch in your back, for days


Because. Well, I don’t mean any harm

Don’t mean to diminish your charm

Until you’re practically a wadded up piece of gum

Chewed up and spit out

And your voice is no longer able to shout

Into the dark

Into this black hole, where I’ve hidden your confidence and spark.


I don’t mean to get in your head.

Don’t want to be an enemy, a frenemy or your foe.

I’m sorry. It’s just that…I have no place else to go.