Therapy Dogs Bring Students Stress Relief

December 14, 2015

If you are in need of a break from your finals flashcards, therapy dogs are here to help.

This week, furry, four-legged friends will be visiting the MSU library and other campus locations to provide stress relief for students who are polishing off the fall semester. The pets belong to volunteers in the East Lansing community, and are certified by Therapy Dogs International (TDI) to visit MSU and other public institutions and provide relief services.

You can find therapy dogs at the following locations this week:

Library Events:
Sunday, Dec 13th 1:30 - 3:00p.m. Main Library
Monday, Dec 14th 1:00 - 3:00p.m. Main Library
Tuesday, Dec 15th 1:00 - 3:00p.m. Business Library AND 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. Main Library
Wednesday, Dec 16th 10:00 - 11:30a.m. Main Library

Additional Upcoming Events:
Monday, Dec 14th 10a.m. – 4p.m. Chittenden Hall for Graduate Health and Wellness Event
Thursday, Dec 17th 6:30 – 8:00p.m. Wilson Hall for De-Stress Event

Tammison Smith, MSU career advising and training coordinator, has volunteered for these events with her toy poodle, Osage, for the past four years. According to Smith, the request for therapy dogs on campus has increased from one event in 2011 to 12 events this semester alone. The dogs, which range in breed and age, are required to pass more than 10 tests demonstrating a high level of training to be certified by TDI.

Smith says that students tell her the therapy dogs give them a chance to slow down and relax.

“I love when students tell us that sitting with our pets makes it easier for them to deal with what they have to do next,” Smith said. “It feels good to know that Osage and I contributed to that.”

One of the events that Osage’s friends will be visiting this week is the Massage and Pet Therapy Day for graduate students at Chittenden Hall from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Hosted by Graduate Student Life and Wellness in partnership with the Olin Health Center and the Council of Graduate Students, Massage and Pet Therapy Day will feature free 10-minute chair massages and dogs to pet while you wait.

Matt Helm, director of Graduate Student Life and Wellness, says that he believes these events are important because academic life is stressful, and stress is one of the leading barriers to achievement. According to Helm, one of the benefits to providing therapy dogs is that students can connect over the pets and build community.

Students wait their turn with therapy dogs at Akers Hall.

Students wait their turn with therapy dogs at Akers Hall.

“When I’ve watched two students petting these dogs and having a conversation, it’s like you can see that stress melting off of them,” Helm said.

The chair massages at Massage and Pet Therapy Day are given at a first-come, first served-basis, so make sure to get there early if you’re feeling tense. Additionally, a “Graduate Student Life and Wellness selfie contest” will be held throughout the event. Students are encouraged to post selfies on Facebook with the hashtag #GSLWStressBuster to be entered to win a 30-minute massage at the Olin Health Center.

In the midst of trying to make all of the Fall Semester deadlines, MSU wants you to remember to make your wellness a priority. Take a minute to walk away from your notes and come say hello to Osage and the other therapy dogs on campus this week. We can guarantee they are excited to meet you!

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