Dogs are not just excellent pets, they’re also great at helping people de-stress. At Emory University, the stars on campus have been dogs from CanineAssistants, a Georgia nonprofit that provides therapy dogs for people with disabilities.
Like any good therapy dog, the CanineAssistants dogs are required to go through training in order to be certified. As part of their training, they have been visiting the Robert W. Woodruff Library at Emory to become more familiar with being in different surroundings. They are accompanied by their trainers and are there to help stressed students take their minds off finals, even if for just a second.
Henry, a golden retriever, is one of about half a dozen dogs visiting the campus. Each dog takes a two-hour shift and patiently waits as students line up to pet them. Students at Emory are allowed ten minutes with a dog. Ali Serpe was studying at the Woodruff Library studying and was excited to spend time with Wesley, another K-9 volunteer, “I’m all studied out. This is exactly what I needed,” she told CNN.
Although this type of program is not widespread, it is becoming more common as studies continue to be released, detailing the proven benefits of therapy dogs on people. Pet-assisted visitation services organization, Paws for People, says that therapy dogs improve the physical, and mental health of those who come in contact with them. They lower anxiety, reduce loneliness, provide comfort, and lift spirits.
Other universities also provide similar study break programs for their students to interact with dogs during finals week. Chris Daood of Marquette University spoke with CNN about how the program affects students, “With academic stress, it’s not uncommon for students to get tunnel vision during finals. Five minutes with a cat or dog, it clears their head,” he said. The K-9 volunteers will continue to be on select campuses during finals to help bring some much needed cheer to students.