April 27, 2017
The end of the semester means research papers and final exams and the stress they bring for college students. This year, students at Endicott College will be able to take a break from their studies and spend some time with the dogs from Service Dog Project, Inc. The goal is to reduce their finals-induced stress levels. Therapy dogs will be available to students at the Endicott College Amphitheater on Tuesday, May 2nd from 12:30pm until 2:00pm.
College counseling centers and student life organizations have documented the benefits of bringing therapy dogs to help college students during exam week. The physical benefits of pet therapy can counteract the effects of stress including normalizing of heart rate and blood pressure, reducing the level of the stress hormone cortisol and an increase in the hormone oxytocin which is associated with anti-anxiety effects.
Therapy dog programs for stress relief are becoming increasingly popular in libraries and on college campuses across the United States and Massachusetts schools are no exception. Colleges such as Harvard have dogs that students can check out for 30 minutes.
Endicott has experimented with making dogs available to students in the past and Endicott Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Brandi Johnson says the college is looking to bring the comforts of home to its students. “Dogs are a great way for students to recharge between exams. It is natural for stress levels to increase during finals week and we are excited to see how the dogs can help alleviate that stress and give students a well-deserved break.”
As an academic content provider, EBSCO Information Services, located in Ipswich, EBSCO decided to fund the #EBSCOStandByMe project because it has seen the benefits of bringing in therapy dogs. EBSCO Strategic Project Coordinator Janna Charette brought therapy dogs from Service Dog Project to EBSCO last year. She says the response was overwhelming. “When we saw the immediate impact these dogs had in a business environment, it was easy to see that we could bring this program to our library customers and their users.” EBSCO also understands that the research papers its search system and research databases help students complete receive some of their highest usage during the end of the semester when stress levels elevate as assignments are due.
Service Dog Project has trained and donated more than 120 fully-certified Great Danes as service dogs. Dogs are provided to individuals who have severe balance issues including children and war veterans. Founder Carlene White says the Great Danes she raises and trains make terrific therapy dogs because they are calm and spend a lot of their days napping. “Calm breeds calm. Dogs that are innately relaxed are easy for students to approach. Once someone is petting a dog, the nurturing is two-sided. The dogs love the attention and students naturally relax.”