Therapy dogs help reduce stress for UMass students during finals - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Therapy dogs help reduce stress for UMass students during finals

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(Western Mass News photo) (Western Mass News photo)

The stress of finals is beginning to set in at UMass Amherst.

End of the year exams begin a matter of days, so what are stressed out students doing to get ready? 

Hanging out with a pack of dogs, of course!

Twenty-five dogs set-up camp inside the Student Union at UMass, provided by Northampton's Bright Spot Therapy Dogs for students who made need a little stress reduction as they approach finals.  

Although, there's no stress in this room. 

It's even hard to tell who's enjoying the therapy session more - the students or the dogs, like King. 

"He loves his job.  He loves being petted.  That's his job.  It's perfect for him.  King looks very stressed out right now," said Cynthia Hinckley with Bright Spot Therapy Dogs.

Nearly 1,000 students turned out to today's event, organized by Peer Education Health Services.

"I feel like a lot of kids get overwhelmed, so this event is to help kids provide stress reduction, resources, and self-care," said UMass senior Cindy Ngo.

In fact, new research from the University of British Columbia confirms that some doggy one-on-one time works. 

College participants reported significant reductions in stress, as well as increased happiness and energy immediately following the sessions and up to 10 hours after.  

First year UMass student Aakash Patel agrees.

"[Are you feeling the stress leave your body?]  Yeah, I am.  Dogs help a lot," Patel noted.

Freshman Shannon Silva told Western Mass News that she just needed a taste of home.

"It's really nice to come and see the dogs.  I miss my pets from back home, so it's nice having some kind of animal contact.  [You just going to hang out here, pet all the dogs?]  I've already been here more than an hour," Silva noted.

So whether students needed a lick, or a soft hug, or a kiss, these K-9's are really helping to make it 'paws-able' to pass finals.  

Bright Spot Therapy Dogs are making the rounds.  In the next two weeks, they'll make similar visits to five other colleges and universities throughout western Massachusetts.

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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