Therapy Dogs Are Helping Smash Bros. Players With Anxiety

Super Smash Bros. tournament The Big House is teaming up with Go Team Therapy Dogs to have furry friends available for stress relief.

The Big House, a yearly Super Smash Bros. tournament, will be providing its competitors with therapy dogs this year to help them with the stresses of tournament play that can occur before, during and after games.

Among Smash Broscompetitions, The Big House is considered a major tournament due to its relatively large prize pool and the high number of top-level players that compete. This will be the first Big House to feature Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and judging by the size of the prize pools at competitions that have featured Ultimate for the first time relative to previous years, this year's event could easily be the Biggest House yet.

Larger tournaments inevitably mean higher stakes, which can compound the stress put onto players. Go Team Therapy Dogs will be there to help with just that. Laura Rall, a graduate student at the University of Michigan who volunteers at The Big House, suggested to an event organizer the idea of giving players access to therapy dogs, and he was immediately receptive and agreed to give it a try.

Go Team is an international organization with branches all over the U.S. and one in South Korea. Its Detroit branch cares for a team of over 40 therapy dogs that have brightened company picnics, accompanied graduating college students, visited U.S. soldiers abroad and more. Rall is pretty sure this will be the first time Go Team Detroit's therapy dog team will have attended a fighting game tournament.

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Players will be able to get some pets and pats in to quell performance anxiety, calm down after a painful loss and even sweeten a hard-won victory. Quality dog time won't be limited to competitors, however, and will be available to anybody present at the tournament, whether anxious about being in a large crowd of spectators, or just dealing with one of the many routine stresses in life that can be alleviated by a non-human friend.

Event organizers are keeping those in mind who are allergic to or fearful of dogs as well, with plans to keep the therapy dog team confined to one area of the tournament grounds, so that dog time is purely voluntary. For those who fall into either category, the tournament will feature one nonallergenic, more-silly-than-scary canine alternative.


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