Gone to the Dogs: Piloting a Stress Reduction Program During Final Exams
Bringing therapy dogs into libraries to help alleviate student stress during the final exam period is a growing trend in academic libraries across the country. There is a known therapeutic connection between humans and animals and students stressed out over finals have flocked to visit therapy dogs in their library. Many miss their own pets back home or say cuddling with these dogs provides comfort and calm during the chaos of exams. Research shows that time spent petting an animal can lower feelings of stress, decrease blood pressure and improve mood and sense of well being. And, bringing dogs into the library is a great way to reach students directly, have fun and market the library at the same time. This poster will describe what it took to start a stress-reduction program at the UC Santa Cruz (UCSC) libraries despite a very strict “no dogs allowed on campus” policy. The pilot, started in March 2013, has grown from a single therapy dog to 13 dog/handler teams in less than a year. Hundreds of students drop by to visit the therapy dogs each time this event is held. Benefits have included an article in our local city newspaper, a campus news item, and off-the-chart “likes” each time we post information about the therapy dog events on our Facebook page. We’ve also had requests from other campus departments (e.g.Counseling and Psychological Services, Campus Police) to co-sponsor events with the us.