Taking Some ‘Dog Time’ During Finals

Specially trained therapists help students take a break from their studies

By R. Stickney
|  Tuesday, Dec 8, 2009  |  Updated 3:15 PM PDT
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Therapy Fluffies Help During Finals

Victor Chen/UCSD

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If you had walked into the Price Center on the campus of University of California San Diego Tuesday, you would never have known it was so close to finals.

In the center of the room, dozens of students were lounging on colorful pillows underneath flower streamers while others crowded into a room called The Petting Palace.

The stars at this midday party were Izzy and Mocha and the dozens of other therapy dogs on loan to the UC San Diego’s LiveWell program for their “Therapy Fluffies” event.

Close to two thousand students stopped in to relax, pet a dog and get their minds off the upcoming exams.

The annual event, proven to be very popular with students when it debuted last year, is arranged by the campus to remind students of the dangers of “stressing out.”

“Stress for students is the number one health impediment to academic success,” said Jerry Phelps, Ph. D, director of Wellness Initiatives for UC Student Wellness.

It’s been clinically proven that petting therapy dogs can reduce your blood pressure, reduce heart rate and calm you down, Phelps said.

The simple act of petting a dog gives students a way to get through what can be a difficult time.

“It allows the students to connect with another living being,” said Phelps. “A lot of students actually don’t have someone that they can touch. The physical touch actually reduces the stress.”

The therapy dogs are specially trained and tour area hospitals and other institutions. UCSD worked with volunteers to provide the service to students for free. While campus staffers have the students’ attention, they also distribute brochures and other information to help them maintain healthy lifestyles.

From the smiles on student faces and the tails wagging from their new friends, the event proved to be a success yet again.

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