Dominican students burning the midnight oil preparing for final exams got a visit from a pack of four-legged friends this week through a program sponsored by the university’s library.
Organizers of the therapy dog program say the visit far exceeded their expectations.
“I lost count [of those who showed up to check out the dogs] at about 150 students,” university librarian Felice Maciejewski said.
Maciejewski said she got the idea from a colleague at another university where therapy dogs have been used to relieve stress during finals week.
“At this time of year [students] are trying to get final projects done, and they’re pulling everything together; you can feel the tension on campus,” Maciejewski said in a telephone interview.
The five dogs — Otto, a Bernese mountain dog; Griff, a Welsh spaniel; Kya, a schnauzer; Shiloh, a golden retriever border/collie mix; and a “really big black dog” whose name and breed were not readily available — were provided by Paws 4 Patients.
“We were amazed; we didn’t know what to expect,” she said.
Students weren’t the only ones taking part in the doggie love, according to university spokesperson Jessica Mackinnon.
“While I think the original intent was to provide therapy dogs for students, I think a lot more faculty and staff showed up than I would have expected,” Mackinnon said.
More universities have turned to therapy dogs in recent years to give students a break from the grind of studying and to help manage stress.
Maciejewski said pets are not allowed in the dorms and many students who grew up with a dog in the home are comforted by the unconditional affection of a dog that reminds them of home. The program was so successful, she said, that other groups on campus are contacting the library to figure out how they can get their own therapy dog visit set up for the next go-round.
Maciejewski said she plans to continue the program next semester.