Posted By Vicki McClure Davidson on May 13, 2012
Dogs and cats are helping college students cope with the many stresses of academia life.
And with the realization that more than half all American college graduates are unemployed or underemployed, they’re going to need plenty of pet therapy.
Resident therapy dogs are even being used at Harvard and Yale. Puppy Power!
Just don’t tell Pres. Obama… heh, heh.
Reported by USA Today, For stressed college students, a doggone good way to relax:
From Kent State University in Ohio to Macalester College in Minnesota, more and more pooches are around campus during exams to help students relax and maybe even crack a smile or two.
“We had a student who came in and a staff person commented they had never seen that student smile,” said Richelle Reid, a law librarian who started Emory’s pet therapy program this year after hearing about one at the University of California, San Francisco. “It has had positive effects, helping them to just have a moment to clear their minds and not have to think about studies, not have to think about books.”
Pups are in counseling centers for students to visit regularly or faculty and staff bring their pets to lift spirits.
Pet-friendly dorms also are popping up where students can bring their dogs or cats from home.
Want to check out a pet? It’s possible at Harvard Medical School and Yale Law School, which both have resident therapy dogs in their libraries that can be borrowed through the card catalog just like a book.
Some dogs, like Harvard Medical School’s resident shih tzu Cooper, hold regular office hours. Researcher Loise Francisco-Anderson owns Cooper and said she got permission to bring him to campus after her husband read that Yale Law School had a therapy dog on campus named Monty.
Cooper, who sports a crimson scarf with paw prints on it, is so popular that undergraduate students have been petitioning for him to spend time on their side of campus. Many of them take the shuttle across the river to the medical school just to visit the pup on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“You can release some of the emotions to a pet that you can’t to a human. A pet keeps it confidential. You don’t have to worry about someone else saying, ‘Oh, I think she’s having a nervous breakdown over the science exam,'” said Francisco-Anderson.
Most schools, like Emory, partner with organizations that train companion dogs so that the canines get their social training while students get stress relief. Others, like Harvard, have faculty members bring their dogs — which are certified to be therapy pups — to campus certain hours during the week.
The service is almost always free for students.
Research shows that interaction with pets decreases the level of cortisol — or stress hormone — in people and increases endorphins, known as the happiness hormone. Scant research exists on how pet programs on college campuses help students cope with stress.
You can check out 10 Colleges With Renowned Pet Therapy Programs here.