The words “therapy dog” usually mean well-trained, friendly pups that visit hospitals and people in need of some health and happiness. However, these dogs are branching out! Now, in colleges across the country, therapy dogs are on a mission to help students de-stress during finals week.
One such college is Emory University, where Richelle Reid, the law librarian, started the pet therapy program after hearing of a similar one at University of California, San Francisco. She notes that these pooches give students that necessary moment of clarity as they break from their studies.
Harvard Medical School and Yale Law School even have pets that students can check out, like a book. Cooper (above) is Harvard’s med school shih tzu and he joins Loise Francisco-Anderson, a researcher, on the campus. He’s so popular that undergraduates want him on their part of the campus too. Check out cooper’s blog, Harvard Cooper, to learn more about him.
Having faculty member bring in their certified therapy dogs, is one way that colleges and universities are providing students with some relief. And though Harvard and other campuses like it come with a built-in therapy dog, most schools, like Emory, partner up with groups that are training companion dogs who need socialization. It’s a win-win, for the pups and the students. Indiana University went another route and held a “Rent-a-Puppy” day, partnered with a local shelter and let students spend time with adoptable pups for $5 per day.
While of course, seeing an adorable and friendly dog between studies would help most anyone relax, research has actually proven that our levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, decreases when interacting with dogs, while our endorphins increase.
There’s also endless anecdotal evidence that therapy dogs help greatly in college settings and we’re not even a little bit surprised! Here are some more pictures of Occidental students playing with pups to get some relief from finals stress.