Therapy dog to relieve finals week stress

Alexis Herrick May 1, 2013 0
Therapy dog to relieve finals week stress

his time of year can be extremely stressful for students; the High Library and Wellness Center are offering a way to reduce some of those negative feelings. Dog handler Donna Grenko will bring her therapy dog to the High Library on Wednesday, May 8 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.

This event is called “Down Time with a Dog.” Her dog’s name is Maggie and is a cavalier King Charles spaniel. Several other therapy dogs will join her as well, including Labrador retrievers, a sheltie named Amber and a golden retriever named Holly. According to the Office of Marketing and Communication’s press release, “This will give students an opportunity to relax and rejuvenate with ‘fur-therapy’ during the hectic finals week.”

These dogs are trained specifically to help ease the stress of people with whom they come into contact. All of their trainers will be along for the event as well to educate students about all of the fascinating abilities that these dogs have to evoke positive emotions. Students can pet the different dogs and spend time on the main floor of the library during the two-hour event.

Director of the High Library BethAnn Zambella stated that the idea for “Down Time with a Dog” began when she was looking through the discussion lists that she follows for librarians. Many of Elizabethtown College’s peer libraries mentioned that they used pet therapy as an outlet for stress relief during finals week.

Last fall, Zambella asked some of the other library staff members what they would think about using pet therapy with the Etown College students. They were all very enthusiastic about the idea and immediately began planning. Beth Young, head of reader’s services, became the leader of the event. Jamie Vallis of Student Wellness and senior Hannah Reagan also became involved, and they set out to coordinate the new program for spring finals. “As a library, we are particularly cognizant of the stresses that final exams and paper deadlines place on students. We love to help in ways both intellectual and social/emotional,” Zambella said.

The library usually likes to put out board games and coffee to help students de-stress, and they are constantly looking for new ways to make things easier on students spending their days and nights at the library preparing for difficult exams.

When asked about the possibility of the dogs disturbing students, Zambella expressed hope that this will not be the case. Because the dogs will only be on campus for two hours, she feels it will not create too much of a problem for students studying in the library. Due to the fact that they have never held this event in the past, it is a new experience that they will have to evaluate after the fact. Reagan, who aided in coordinating the program through the Wellness Center, feels that it will definitely be more positive than negative for students studying. She hopes that the event will not be disruptive because it is on Reading Day and is in a very confined area. Zambella agreed. “The dogs will be in the Winters Alcove on the main level, so if folks aren’t canine fans, there will be plenty of other spaces in the library for them to study.”

The High Library staff members and the Wellness Center are very eager for the event and foresee an extremely positive outcome. “I know I am personally really excited to have the dogs at the library, and I am hoping students will see the benefits of ‘Downtime with a Dog’ on keeping their stress levels low going into their final exams,” Reagan said. “We’re excited about bringing pet therapy to students who may be missing their own dogs, or who just know that stroking something furry will lower their blood pressure and keep their synapses firing,” Zambella said. Students are encouraged to stop by the main floor of the library on Wednesday, May 8 to take a break from studying and spend a little “Down Time with a Dog.”

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