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Therapy dogs return to UB Libraries

by jmaloni


Tue, May 5th 2015 02:05 pm

The semester is winding down and the stress level is building. That can mean only one thing for University at Buffalo students: Therapy dogs to the rescue.

The dogs are back in town, returning to the UB Libraries for the eighth edition of "Stress Relief Days," an event where students can get away from their textbooks to relax with a four-legged friend.

Students can find the dogs from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Thursday and Friday in room B-15 on the lower level of the Health Sciences Library (HSL) on the South Campus.

From 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. May 11-13, the dogs will travel to the staff lounge in the basement of Lockwood Memorial Library on the North Campus.

In addition to the dogs, students will have access to 10-minute massages; guided meditation; Reiki, the Japanese method of palm healing; Legos, jigsaw puzzles and other games; and coffee, tea and snacks.

This year, the program will welcome four English Yellow Labradors, two German Shepherds, and a Great Dane, Golden Retriever, Bernese Mountain Dog, Boxer, Beagle, Cavalier, French Bulldog, Bichon and Chiweenie.

"There is no better remedy for anxiety and stress than the friendly face of a therapy dog," said Pamela Rose, coordinator of Web services and library promotion for HSL. "Studies verify that petting a dog lowers your blood pressure and heart rate, boosts your energy, and prepares you to do your best on those final papers and exams."

The first stress-relief program at UB began in 2011, due in large part to the efforts of Rose and Amy Lyons, associate director of HSL.

Rose, a longtime advocate of animal-assisted therapy, first suggested bringing in certified therapy dogs to HSL to provide stress relief for students during finals week. She recruited volunteers from such local organizations as Therapy Dogs International and the SPCA's Paws for Love.

The success of that first event led HSL to repeat it; Lockwood librarians joined the following semester, and a full stress-relief program was launched in the spring of 2012.

In the fall of 2014, the program attracted a record 2,000 students. But perhaps the best evidence of success, Rose said, has been the interest the program has attracted from outside the university.

Universities as close as Canisius College and as far as the University of North Texas and the University College London in the United Kingdom have reached out to UB for guidance on starting their own stress-relief programs that feature therapy dogs.

Outside demand was so great - more than 10 universities contacted UB - that Rose wrote the brochure, "Guide to the Therapy Dog Team Visits at UB."

For more information on the Stress Relief Days program, contact Rose at 716-829-5722.

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