Finals hounding you? De-stress with therapy dogs

By Ramsey Baden | Emory Report | Dec. 5, 2018

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Stress melts away around the dogs at the Woodruff Library’s Pet Therapy Study Break, set for Thursday, Dec. 13 this year. Photo by Emory Libraries.

Finals can put a damper on students’ spirits, but Emory Libraries will help counter that with its annual Pet Therapy Study Break, which will take place 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 13, in the Jones Room at Woodruff Library.

Students can sign up to spend a few minutes with one of three dogs (a fourth dog will be available for walk-ins). Almost 400 students attended this event last year, so students are strongly encouraged to register in advance

Canine Assistants, which trains service dogs, and Pet Partners, which trains therapy dogs, will bring the pups to the study break. In addition, Emory Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) will bring Finn, one of its therapy dogs, to the study break session. The Native American Indian dog, a breed with hair (instead of fur) that can be more tolerable for people with allergies, is available through CAPS to help Emory students manage stress and anxiety throughout the year.

Woodruff Library’s Outreach and Education team organizes the study break. “It’s my favorite day at work. All of us here at the library can feel the tension and stress building as the semester progresses,” says librarian Erin Mooney, who leads the team. “The Pet Therapy Study Break allows students to get out of their heads and focus on cute dogs. After a few minutes of interacting with the pups, the students are smiling and feeling more relaxed.”

For seven years, the Woodruff Library’s pet therapy break has been one of Emory’s most popular and memorable events. The dogs provide a comforting change of pace for students in the library. “Petting the dogs last year was a good and different kind of study break than just going to Peet’s to grab a second cup of coffee,” says Cindy Huang, a senior majoring in business. “It definitely helped lighten my mood which made studying easier for the rest of the day.”

“Spending a short amount of time just sitting and petting the dog was really comforting to me,” adds Kristina Jespersen, a senior majoring in film studies. “I have dogs and it reminded me of being at home.” Jespersen recalls that the dogs were charmingly content. “Our dog was falling asleep as we petted her and it was sweet and funny to see how relaxed she was compared to us,” she says.

In addition, pet therapy can help students feel closer to home. 

“I was petting an older chocolate lab and when we started petting him, he spread out and was lying on his side,” says Mallika Kolachala, a senior majoring in human health. “It reminded me of my dog at home since he would lie the same way and put his head in my lap. The dog made me feel better since he reminded me of home and the fact that the semester was almost over.” 

Lydia Ruotolo, a sophomore double majoring in international relations and Chinese studies, was a first-year student when she first went to the study break. “That semester was my first year of having finals in college and I didn’t really know what to expect,” Ruotolo says. “The dogs definitely made me feel better. They made me feel more at home, but I also generally love dogs so that helps.”