I know there are some really smart dogs out there. We see them in our clinic every day. Dogs that can dance for a treat. Dogs that can sing at the request of their owners. Dogs that can ring a doorbell. OK, that one is my dog. And he doesn’t really ring the bell…he actually nudges the door knocker with his nose when he’s ready to come inside. Yes, we see lots of smart dogs at our veterinary hospital, but now brilliant canines are on college campuses across the country!
Therapy Dogs in Prestigious Universities
Dogs go to Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. At Emory, pet therapy dogs spend the day in the law library as they try valiantly to accommodate the librarian’s request for “Quiet.” Stressed out law students that come to the library to cram for finals may be frowning as they enter, but when they see Stanley playing on the library floor, they smile big time.
One of the law librarians at this east coast university instituted the Emory pet therapy program after learning about a similar initiative at a west coast college, the University of California at San Francisco. Impressive canines even attend Ivy League schools. Both Harvard and Yale have resident pets. So, coast to coast, dogs are in college.
College Acceptance Letters For Canines??
Dogs don’t have to submit SAT or ACT scores. They don’t have to fill out a college application or write a personal statement. They just have to be well behaved and loving….and they have to know someone on the inside! Many pups on college campuses belong to faculty and staff members who bring their dogs to work.
Other schools partner with official organizations adept at training companion dogs. With dogs that are well socialized and well behaved, students get a little stress relief without the additional stress of dealing with a rambunctious dog. Some universities even have certified therapy dogs on hand.
Occasionally, canine coeds accompany their owners to college and reside with them in pet-friendly dorms. Even cats are allowed in some dorms, but restrictions do apply. There are campus policies governing the co-habitation of human and canine/feline roommates.
Making a Date with a College Therapy Dog
Since not every college student has a personal pet, many schools go to great lengths to make therapy dogs available one-on-one to the student population. Interested coeds learn quickly that they need to “make a date” in advance to be assured of getting some needed puppy love. Flirting is allowed.
There are therapy dogs that can be “borrowed” or “checked out” like a library book. Harvard Medical School and Yale Law School have therapy dogs in their libraries that are available to students via a card catalog. Students can choose a dog and take him/her on a personal date.
Of course, curfew must be respected. For example, a popular shih tzu called Cooper regularly goes to Harvard with his owner, a researcher at the medical school. Cooper has regular office hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays for students to pay him a visit but his schedule must be followed.
Can pups really help with exams?
The positive influence of dogs on the GPA of coeds isn’t the result of tutoring. It’s the result of clearing the mind for a moment so more information can “fit” in the brain. Refreshing the weary spirit of a sleep-deprived college student can do wonders during exam time.
Cooper’s owner thinks that this patient pup provides an emotional release for students. Cooper keeps all conversations confidential and provides a ready supply of affection for students who need a hug. This renewal is so important to stressed out students that some college counseling centers often have pets onsite daily so that students can drop in for a convenient visit.
Research indicates that playing with pets decreases the level of cortisol and increases endorphins in the human body. As the stress hormone (cortisol) goes down, the happy hormones (endorphins) go up. Hard to believe that our body chemistry changes by simply patting a pup on the head!
Smart Dogs Reign
Yes, there are lots of brilliant dogs in the world and many of them go to college, but dogs don’t need a college diploma or a PhD in psychology to know how to help stressed out students. Dogs are naturally warm and friendly. Dogs are always ready to play, willing to listen and easy to hug. Dogs may teach some students the most important lessons in college.
Do you know any stories of dogs on campus or other places where they provide stress relief? We’d love to hear about it.