Imagine we’re approaching the last days of May and year-long review sheets are being handed out and study groups are being formed. It’s exam season! While Dana does a lot to help us prepare for exams and help us remain calm, such as bringing in massage therapists and leaving a full week open for in-class review, it will always be a reality that exams are stressful and exhausting. Every year, Dana students come up with the same request around exam time: therapy dogs. Dogs are not only cute, but being with dogs has enormous health benefits, especially for people experiencing stress. I strongly believe that our community should welcome dogs to the school around exam time.
First, there is overwhelming scientific evidence that dogs are good for helping to reduce stress. A study in The American Journal of Cardiology reported that pets help people adapt to stressful situations. Also, a Harvard Medical School Special Report entitled Get Healthy, Get a Dog that describes the numerous benefits dogs have on humans experiencing stress including reducing high blood pressure and elevated heart rate, which are both symptoms of stress.
The dogs could come and visit campus during review week. They would be outside so that no part of the school would become dog hair infested and their handler would remain with them at all times so that nothing would get out of hand. They could be sitting outside on the patio in front of the Student Center during second lunch so that they would be available during a time when all students were free.
There are liabilities the school must consider in initiating a program. Dogs are animals; they aren’t 100% predictable. But the dogs being brought in wouldn’t be someone’s pet. These would be certified therapy dogs; they have gone through rigorous testing and are on an international registry. Second, some people are allergic or afraid of dogs and other furry animals. The dogs being outside would make it possible for these students to not have to come anywhere near the dogs, and their spot outside would assure that no dog hair would get in classrooms or hallways and trigger an allergic reaction.
Lastly, finances is also something that should be taken into consideration. I understand that the school may not want to spend money on an “event” that would only last a couple of hours. But, therapy dogs don’t charge for time. They are simply furry (and free) civil servants. My dog, Bear, is a therapy dog and never asks for money in return for his time and company. I know he would be happy to come and put a smile on the faces of Dana students!
To the Dana administration, I hope you will consider bringing therapy dogs onto campus around exam time. There is scientific evidence that proves how beneficial they are to people experiencing stress and the possible liabilities Dana would face are easily remedied.
Photo: Bear, a therapy dog. Photo credit: Hannah Robinson.