Life + Arts Spring Finals Edition

Therapy dogs bring more than cuteness to campus

At the end of every semester, most students spend their days shuffling around to purchase scantrons, cramming in the library, chain drinking espressos and sleeping in the most convenient (and strange) places.

Every year UH seeks to counteract the anxiety of projects, exams and looming deadlines with Finals Mania: a study break for those who have spent a great portion of the week cramming for exams. It provides breakfast and study strategies to reduce stress — it also brings in dogs.

UH collaborates with Faithful Paws, a pet-therapy program, to bring therapy dogs to campus. These certified canine companions are available to feed, pet and even cuddle through Thursday at the M.D. Anderson Library in an event called “Paws and Relax.”

“We read about the astounding success of therapy dog programs at other college and university libraries and wanted to provide a similar experience for the students at UH,” said librarian and co-creator of Paws and Relax Kirsten Feist in a news release. “We were easily able to find partners and volunteers, with enthusiasm for the event growing each semester.”

Research conducted by the University of Missouri-Columbia found that being around dogs provides health benefits, including the release of endorphins, which are associated with comfort and relaxation.

“Going into a room full of loving animals is a stress reliever second to none,” biochemistry junior Isaac Wilhelm said.

Amid this stressful time – Faithful Paws accommodates their schedule around finals – students can find time to take a “paws” from the clamor and commotion of finals with some rest, coffee and fluffy pooches.

“There’s something therapeutic about how unconditionally compassionate canines are,” hotel and restaurant management sophomore Jasmine Morris said. “Dogs don’t care what grades you make on your finals, they just want you to rub their bellies.”

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