Therapy Dogs Help MSU Students Relax

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The stress of exams week can take a toll on students, especially when flu season is in full swing.

MSU is offering a remedy though in the form of furry friends, and it turns out dogs might be the key to acing finals.

With a packed library filled with energy drinks and nervous energy, students try to cram for exams.

"Exam week is definitely the hardest week," MSU senior Katie Peterson said.

Students are studying around the clock, staying at the library until the wee hours of the morning.

"It's extremely overwhelming," MSU junior Mac Dodds said. "I don't think that people really realize how stressed every single kid here is."

The Outreach Librarian Holly Flynn sure noticed the stress levels and wanted to do something about it.

"I've seen students crying in the stairwells and when we're out of staplers," Flynn said.

But Wednesday morning it was all smiles, thanks to Flynn coordinating a brand new therapy dogs program at the library. Seven certified dogs that usually make the rounds at hospitals and nursing homes spent the day lending their paws to help students take a pause.

"The dogs were so sweet. You can't be sad when you look at a dog," Peterson said.

Some felt it was a much-needed break.

"It was good to get your mind off of it for five or ten minutes here and there," Dodds said.

Taking a study break with the dogs is about more than just cuddling. MSU experts say that the four-legged therapists can actually help students get through exams and stay healthy.

"We know that dogs can be really calming," MSU Counseling Center Psychologist Dr. John Lee said. "So when you're stressed out, and you sit down with a dog, we know that your heart beat actually goes down."

He said taking a short break like this is the right way to study, giving students a chance to relax during such a pressure-packed time.

"You look at them and they're just so adorable. This is so nice. I just feel better," MSU freshman Amanda Covert said.

With their first semester almost officially over, Covert's friend was just as enthused after spending time with the dogs.

"I definitely feel lifted," MSU freshman Kate Rock said.

The university also handed out care packs to fight the flu, so students can make it through this home stretch healthy and revitalized.

"I'll go back up there, I'll be able to crank out a few more hours, because it did help. It really did," MSU senior Annie Wallenberg said.

The library hopes to have the therapy dogs for all future exam weeks.

The MSU Counseling Center also offers free services for students. Visit the link above for more information.

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