Dogged by finals? Sign up for the Pet Therapy Study Break

By HG Gruebmeyer | Emory Report | Dec. 4, 2019

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Emory students found stress relief through a Pet Therapy Study Break during finals last year. They can repeat the relaxation on Thursday, Dec. 12, at the Woodruff Library. Photo courtesy of Emory Libraries.

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As finals approach and stressed-out students crowd into study areas and coffee shops, the Woodruff Library offers a way to relieve some of that tension – its annual Pet Therapy Study Break.

On Thursday, Dec.12, from 11:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. in the Jones Room, students can come scratch behind some ears and rub some bellies to make all of those finals worries fade away. Students are encouraged to register online to reserve a few minutes of cuddle time with therapy dogs.

Last year, sophomore Elysia Utech was stressed before finals, but once she spent some time with the therapy dogs, she “felt more relaxed and could focus on studying.”

Often, the dogs provide a sense of home during a tough time. “One dog rolled on his side and let me rub his belly, which reminded me of my own dog and was very comforting,” Utech says.

Thanks to Woodruff Library’s Instruction and Engagement team, the dogs can provide students with that little bit of extra love and comfort during finals season.

The dogs come from Canine Assistants, which trains service dogs, and Pet Partners, which trains therapy dogs. Beowulf and Finn, the therapy dogs of Emory Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), also will participate. Both are Native American Indian dogs, a breed with hair (instead of fur) that can be more tolerable for people with allergies.

The library staff enjoys putting on this event every year and seeing the reactions from the newly de-stressed students.

Instruction and outreach librarian Erin Mooney, who organizes the event, says, “It’s my favorite day at work. We love to see the students interacting with the dogs and to watch their stress levels dissipate. It’s like magic.”

The dog therapy event is aimed specifically at relieving that end-of-semester finals pressure. In the seven years it has been offered, the study break has been one of the library’s most memorable and popular events, with hundreds of students coming to snuggle and play in the midst of their finals stress.

“The Pet Therapy Study Break allows students to get out of their heads and focus on cute dogs,” Mooney says. “After a few minutes of interacting with the pups, the students are smiling and feeling more relaxed.”

Some students who felt a little hesitant around the dogs came around by the end of the session. As senior Joelle Wellington says, “I don’t usually like dogs, but I liked that the therapy dogs were especially trained to be calming, so I felt much better when I left.”

The Pet Therapy Study Break is sure to liven up even the most stressed of undergrads. Last year senior Brandon Schettler was exhausted from studying when he went to see the dogs, but as soon as he got into the room, he noticed how “one of the dogs was wagging his tail and acting a bit adventurous – desperate for more petting, somehow.” When he left, Schettler felt “rejuvenated,” saying, “nothing takes stress away like a dog.”