This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

UB Libraries are going to the dogs

Melissa Milton, an occupational therapy major, takes a break with Max in the Health Sciences Library. Photo: DOUGLAS LEVERE

  • Shelley Hain, a lecturer in the Department of Theatre and Dance, and a licensed massage therapist, works on physical therapy student Mark Zarbo. Photo: DOUGLAS LEVERE

Published: Dec. 13, 2012

“Peanuts” cartoonist Charles Schultz believed that “happiness is a warm puppy.” Hundreds UB students taking part this week in the University Libraries’ Stress Relief Days couldn’t agree more.

Dogs, dogs and more dogs are the main attraction at the event, being held Wednesday through Friday at the Lockwood and Health Sciences libraries. And of course, there’s always the free food.

The goal of Stress Relief Days is to provide students a way to ease the tension during finals week, arguably the most anxiety-producing time of the semester. In addition to dogs and coffee and snacks, students may get a chair massage or take part in a reflexology/reiki session.

“This event was definitely a big hit last semester,” notes Kathleen Quinlivan, communications officer for the UB Libraries. “Students really loved having a chance to play with the puppies, grab a snack and take a break from studying in the library for final exams.”

Cindy Ehlers, senior assistant librarian in Lockwood Library, agrees that the dogs are a huge draw. “The kids love the dogs; they miss their pets from home,” she says, noting the event provides students with “a touch of home,” as well as a nice break from studying.

Senior Kelsey Naughton says she came to Lockwood “because of the dogs.”

“They take the stress away when you pet them,” she says. “They’re happy; they get your mind off things.”

A need to relax after a grueling Japanese exam brought Erika Auler and Tegan Leach to the library.

“The dogs can sense when you’re really stressed,” Leach says. “This is a nice way to wind down,” adds Auler.

Greg Feldberg was looking for a little canine companionship before an upcoming macroeconomic theory exam—an exam that he said would count for 100 percent of his grade in the class.

“The dogs keep me calm,” he says, as he gives Molly the beagle a few head pats. “Otherwise, I’d be freaking out. This keeps me going” until the exam.

The idea for Stress Relief Days was first suggested by Amy Lyons, associate director of the Health Sciences Library, during a staff meeting.

“We wanted to do something extra for our students to help them out during their last days of classes and exams,” recalls Pamela Rose, coordinator of Web services and library promotion in HSL. Rose also is a longtime animal rescue volunteer and a founding member of Therapy Animals of Western New York (TAWNY). “Since I have been talking about bringing in animals—and most recently therapy dogs—for years, she (Lyons) looked at me and said ‘now’s the time!’

“We brainstormed a bit more, added massage therapy—which was already offered in HSL once a week—and snacks and drinks and music, and voila!”

The first Stress Relief Days were held last December in HSL and received an overwhelmingly positive response, Rose says. The success of the event led Lockwood librarians to plan a similar event for North Campus students, with events being held on both campuses last spring and continuing this fall.

Working with TAWNY and the SPCA’s Paws for Love program, Rose arranges for the therapy dogs. “We send out a call with a schedule of the shifts we need filled, and get a terrific response,” she says.

This year, almost 20 dogs and their humans are manning the three-day event in both libraries. Rose and her a Bernese Sophia were at HSL Thursday afternoon.

Sometimes it’s the little things—like petting a dog—that can make a difference in someone’s day.

As one past attendee of Stress Relief Days so ably put it: “People lose sight of the important things in life when bogged down by work—sometimes it’s just a dog and an apple that makes your day!”

Stress Relief Days continue on Friday. Visit the UB Libraries’ blog for times and room numbers.

Reader Comments

nancy haas says:

I think the dogs are great,,, my daughter is attending cornell and she told me they are using dogs there as well,,,,,, I for one would not use the massage therapy ,,, but would not hesitate to come cross campus to pet the dogs,,,,, what a wonderful way to give the students an opportunity for stress relief

Posted by nancy haas, student, 12/19/12