The end of any semester can be stressful for students, faculty and administrators alike. Sometimes a helping hand – or paw – can make all the difference.
This is the idea behind a pet-populated stress-free zone set up in room 200 of the Rondileau Campus Center. The pets are therapy dogs, and students can stop by for some quality time with a therapist of the four legged variety.
“It makes me feel a little less stress,” said Melanie Mitchell, a junior English and psychology major from Millbury, as she waited her turn with Owen, the dog on duty on a recent morning. “It’s a stressful week,” she said, citing the papers due and studying that’s required for finals.
For four days in the week before finals the therapy dogs were on hand. Some belonged to faculty members and a student, while others were brought in by volunteers. On this day, Owen was helping students chill out, with assistance from owner/handler and alumna Robin Buckley of Marshfield. She and Owen were recently featured on the NBC Nightly News when cameras caught them working at the memorial for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.
“Studies show it has an impact,” Ms. Buckley said.
Ann Doyle, coordinator of outreach education at BSU, runs the program, and said it all began a year ago when she was approached by a student looking for stress relief.
“You see a definite effect,” Ms. Doyle said. “It’s very relaxing for the students.”
In addition to the natural relaxation a calm and caring canine can offer, some students are reminded of their own pets back home. That makes the pup-filled, stress-free zone a definite win-win.
Lisa Carraher, a junior English major from Holliston would seem to agree, as she knelt and petted Owen.
“If you like dogs, this makes a lot of sense,” she said. (Photos by Karen Callan, story by John Winters, G ’11, University Advancement)