Students ‘Paws to Relax’ at the library
Published: Thursday, May 3, 2012
Updated: Thursday, May 3, 2012 11:05
As students embarked upon final exams, stress levels were the rise. However, one program at UConn aimed to alleviate the stress by providing students with dogs to pet.
The UConn Paws to Relax program allowed students to interact with therapy dogs brought to campus in an effort to curb stress levels. The program, in its third year, brought dogs that are trained and certified from animal therapy organizations such as Tails of Joy, Allan’s Angels, and Cold Noses Warm Hearts. All of the dogs were brought to the first floor of the Homer D. Babbidge Library throughout finals week.
“The program brings certified therapy dogs to campus, whom are trained in therapy situations at hospitals and nursing homes, to help students going through a stressful finals week,” said Jo Ann Reynolds, head of UConn Paws to Relax. “We started the program because we realized that students miss home and miss their pets and this gives them a chance to interact and bring stress levels down.”
During its first year, the program saw between ten to fifteen dogs on campus. Since then, the number has been steadily increasing. This year, around thirty-six dogs were brought to campus throughout the week. The dogs allowed students to decrease their stress levels and also provide other benefits.
“There is a lot of scientific evidence that dogs can lower blood pressure, decrease mood disorders, while also bringing stress levels down. These dogs are not just pets but trained to be therapeutic and get re-certified each year,” Reynolds said.
The students also enjoyed the company. In past years, student response has been overwhelmingly positive. Many students commented on how the dogs provided much needed relief from the intensity of final exams and added pressures. Other students discussed the dogs’ therapeutic nature and how comforting they were.
“We get a lot of comments from students about how great the program is and how positive it is. Many remark upon how much the dogs help them and lower their stress levels… The staff at the library loves them and the students just sit around the dogs and chat … they are very comforting,” Reynolds said.
The dogs were on the first floor of the Homer D. Babbidge Library from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Friday.