Dogs have always been nicknamed man’s best friend. Now, they’re a college student’s new BFF.

Imagine this: It’s finals week. Your accounting exam is tomorrow at 8 a.m., and that annoying twelve page research paper is due in Bannow by noon.

You pulled an all-nighter yesterday; the only thing keeping you going now is that extra shot of expresso in your venti “Starbucks” emblazed cup.

You decide to take a break.

After a brief walk across campus, you find yourself in the Barone Campus Center. You reach your destination: a small room on the lower level.

You set your coffee on a small table. Your bags fall to the floor.

And the stress melts off your face as a furry, golden retriever puppy gives you a wet kiss on the cheek.
This could be you; that is, if you went to a different college.

Emory University, Harvard University, Yale University and Kent State are some of the higher-education schools that offer a new breed of therapy: doggy-style.

Harvard Medical School’s Shih Tzu, Cooper, stays at the Countway Library of Medicine. Stressed students can use their I.D. cards to swipe Cooper out for thirty minute periods, just like they would take out a library book.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers cat and dog friendly dorms, so students can bring their beloved pet with them to college.

In our own backyard, the University of Connecticut offers the “Paws to Relax” program. Therapy dogs are brought into the campus library on a regular basis for student-dog sessions.

Research studies have linked playing with a pet to health benefits:

  • lower blood pressure
  • lower stress levels
  • a decrease of cortisol, a stress hormone
  • an increase of oxytocin, a happy hormone

Finals week is fast approaching at Fairfield University. I’ve been feeling the pressure as I race to finish my growing pile of papers and take-home exams.

As I write this article, I think back to my high school days. For my Long Island locals, I come from Kellenberg Memorial High School: 2,500 students … and nearly a dozen resident dogs.

There was Matilda, a fluffy Shih-Tzu mix that stayed in the library; Tobit, a massive white Samoyed in the general office; Mattie, O’B and Phoenix, usually barking, in the administrative offices; plus a few roaming collies and mutts.

After class, I’d take one of the dogs for a walk. It was a break from academic life. It’s impossible to worry about Latin conjugations when you’re playing tug-of-war with a four-legged Fido.

Coming to Fairfield, I miss having dogs around – especially during finals week.

There are several therapy-dog organizations that operate in Fairfield County. I’m sure that the University has an open classroom that could host an anti-stress puppy party.

Concerned about dog allergies? Many dog breeds are hypoallergenic, such as Poodles, Shih-Tzus, and Yorkshire terriers.

The dogs would love the attention. The college students would be happy to de-stress.

Fairfield may have stags, but hey – a dog or two wouldn’t hurt at all.

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