Colleges go to the dogs for stress busters

May 12, 2012, 2:19 PM

AP Education Writer

ATLANTA (AP) – Just down the hall from the reference desk at Emory University’s law library in a room housing antique legal texts is Stanley the golden retriever puppy, barking his head off.

Stanley rolls around on the floor and chews on a squeaky toy while zombie-like law students wander in, a giant grin breaking out on their weary faces when they see the cuddly boy. Puppy therapy _ just in time for finals week.

From Kent State University in Ohio to Macalester College in Minnesota, more and more pooches are around campus during exams to help students relax and maybe even crack a smile or two.

“We had a student who came in and a staff person commented they had never seen that student smile,” said Richelle Reid, a law librarian who started Emory’s pet therapy program this year after hearing about one at the University of California, San Francisco. “It has had positive effects, helping them to just have a moment to clear their minds and not have to think about studies, not have to think about books.”

Pups are in counseling centers for students to visit regularly or faculty and staff bring their pets to lift spirits.

Pet-friendly dorms also are popping up where students can bring their dogs or cats from home.

Want to check out a pet? It’s possible at Harvard Medical School and Yale Law School, which both have resident therapy dogs in their libraries that can be borrowed through the card catalog just like a book.

Some dogs, like Harvard Medical School’s resident shih tzu Cooper, hold regular office hours. Researcher Loise Francisco-Anderson owns Cooper and said she got permission to bring him to campus after her husband read that Yale Law School had a therapy dog on campus named Monty.

Cooper, who sports a crimson scarf with paw prints on it, is so popular that undergraduate students have been petitioning for him to spend time on their side of campus. Many of them take the shuttle across the river to the medical school just to visit the pup on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“You can release some of the emotions to a pet that you can’t to a human. A pet keeps it confidential. You don’t have to worry about someone else saying, `Oh, I think she’s having a nervous breakdown over the science exam,'” said Francisco-Anderson.

Most schools, like Emory, partner with organizations that train companion dogs so that the canines get their social training while students get stress relief. Others, like at Harvard, have faculty members bring their dogs _ which are certified to be therapy pups _ to campus certain hours during the week.

The service is almost always free for students.

Research shows that interaction with pets decreases the level of cortisol _ or stress hormone _ in people and increases endorphins, known as the happiness hormone. Scant research exists on the how pet programs on college campuses help students cope with stress.

That’s why Kathleen Adamle, a nursing professor at Kent State, hopes to garner a grant so she can conduct research as part of her “Dogs on Campus” program. Adamle launched the program in 2006 with just her dog and has since added 11 other therapy canines to the team that visits dorms regularly throughout the year.

The dogs belong to Adamle or other community members and are certified therapy dogs.

She has plenty of anecdotal evidence that her program works. As soon as there’s a tragedy on campus _ a student dies in a car wreck, for example _ dorms scramble to book the dog team to help comfort upset students, she says.

“I don’t care if it’s 10 at night, we go to that dorm and sit on the floor. The kids are crying, and they grab the dog and put their face in the fur and just let it go,” said Adamle.

Since 2006, Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn., has asked faculty and alumni to bring their dogs to campus during finals as part of the “Dog Day Afternoon” program. At Kenyon College in Ohio, the counseling center and dorms offer puppy play dates with Sunny the yellow lab and Sam the poodle-Chihuahua mix.

Last month, Indiana University students romped around with dogs in the first ever “Rent-a-Puppy” day. For $5, students could book time with one of 20 puppies from the local animal shelter _ and could adopt them if they couldn’t bear to say goodbye.

First-year Emory law student Anna Idelevich took a break from studying for exams at the library on a recent afternoon to visit Stanley and Hooch, two golden retrievers training to be companion dogs for disabled owners. The private university brought in the dogs as part of a new program to help students cope with the stress of exams.

“I’ve literally been here every day. This is the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” said Idelevich, 22. “They couldn’t have thought of a better way to relieve stress. If they don’t do it next year, I’ll be upset.”

___

Follow Dorie Turner at
http://www.twitter.edu/dorieturner.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

This photo provided by ByHeart shows Ron Belldegrun.  The co-founders of baby formula startup ByHea...
Associated Press

ByHeart CEO on launching new baby formula in a supply crisis

WASHINGTON (AP) — The co-founders of baby formula startup ByHeart began working on their product long before the current shortage that’s rattled many American parents. It took Ron Belldegrun and his sister Mia Funt six years to research, test and win regulatory approval for their company’s formula. When the Pennsylvania-based company launched in March, it […]
9 hours ago
Gretchen Robinson, a lesbian high school teacher in Orange County, Fla., poses for a photo at the d...
Associated Press

So-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law confuses some Florida schools

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Some Florida schools have moved library books and debated changing textbooks in response to a law critics call “Don’t Say Gay” — and some teachers have worried that family pictures on their desks could get them in trouble. As students return from summer break, educators are cautiously adjusting and waiting to […]
9 hours ago
Taliban fighters celebrate one year since they seized the Afghan capital, Kabul, in front of the U....
Associated Press

Afghanistan marks 1 year since Taliban seizure as woes mount

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Taliban on Monday marked a year since they seized the Afghan capital of Kabul, a rapid takeover that triggered a hasty escape of the nation’s Western-backed leaders, sent the economy into a tailspin and fundamentally transformed the country. Bearded Taliban fighters, some hoisting rifles or the white banners of their […]
9 hours ago
This combination photo of celebrities with birthdays from Aug. 21-27 shows Kim Cattrall, from left,...
Associated Press

Celebrity birthdays for the week of Aug. 21-27

Celebrity birthdays for the week of Aug. 21-27: Aug. 21: Guitarist James Burton (with Elvis Presley) is 83. Singer Jackie DeShannon is 81. Actor Patty McCormack (“The Ropers”) is 77. Singer Carl Giammarese of The Buckinghams is 75. Actor Loretta Devine (“Boston Public”) is 73. Newsman Harry Smith is 71. Singer Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple, […]
9 hours ago
FILE - Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., addresses a South Carolina GOP dinner July 29, 2022, in Columbi...
Associated Press

Judge: Sen. Graham must testify in Georgia election probe

ATLANTA (AP) — A federal judge on Monday said U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham must testify before a special grand jury in Atlanta that is investigating whether then-President Donald Trump and his allies broke any laws while trying to overturn his narrow 2020 general election loss in the state. Attorneys for Graham, R-S.C., had argued that […]
9 hours ago
Associated Press

Ex-NFL star Aqib Talib’s brother wanted in youth coach death

LANCASTER, Texas (AP) — The brother of retired NFL cornerback Aqib Talib has been identified by police as a suspect in the shooting death of a coach at a youth football game in Texas. Yaqub Salik Talib is suspected in the Saturday night shooting that killed a man, police in the Dallas-area city of Lancaster […]
9 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
...
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
...
CANVAS ANNUITY

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
Colleges go to the dogs for stress busters