Therapy Dogs Will Return for Finals Week

By Carlos Marquez III
Senior News Reporter

 

Therapy dogs will be at the Alkek Library May 3 and 4 from 1-3 p.m. for finals week. Photo by Carlos Marquez III.
Therapy dogs will be at the Alkek Library May 3 and 4 from 1-3 p.m. for finals week. Photo courtesy of the Alkek Library.

The Texas State Alkek Library will have therapeutic dogs just before finals start to help reduce stress. Studying for final exams can be nerve­-wrecking and can lead many students to turn to unhealthy measures to help them focus.

However, the Texas State Alkek Library is offering a healthy alternative to help students relieve stress and find a distraction from testing. Alkek Library Commons Assistant Kay Hetherly says they are excited to be continuing this successful event.

“Well this is a program that we’ve been doing for four years now,” Heatherly said. “It’s definitely our most popular program in the library. Originally we did it because we know that being with a therapy dog and petting a dog can lower a person’s stress and can actually increase their happy hormones, like their endorphins and that sort of thing.”

“So we wanted to do it to help students get through their final exams and we keep doing it every semester because it’s so popular,” Heatherly said. “People say ‘this is why I love my school’, ‘this is my favorite time of year’ and then just at the event, just looking at their faces, they’re not thinking about anything stressful while they’re in the room with the dogs and we don’t want to distract the students and make them forget their finals or forget to go to class, no for sure, no we just want to help them relax and take a good study break.”

Petting a dog and interacting with the dog can help relieve stress through signaling the brain to release certain chemicals to cause a certain reaction in our mood. Texas State Assistant Professor Elizabeth Hartwig says that there is plenty of research on how therapeutic animals can beneficially impact the human mind and mood.

According to Hartwig, animal assisted therapy has been found to decrease depression and anxiety, while also enhancing self-esteem, health and lowering blood pressure.

“So there was a really neat article,” Hartwig said, “I think it was by a researcher named Audun Dahl, when people were interacting with the therapy dogs, six neurochemicals associated with the decrease in blood pressure were measured in humans and dogs before and after positive interaction. The results indicated in both beings the neurochemicals involved with attention-seeking increased,” said Hartwig. “So basically they saw that the nervous system arousal provided a positive external focus of attention so kind of like people were drawn to the dogs and likewise the dogs were drawn to the people so it mutually increased those positive, those neurochemicals in the brain that kind of make people and dogs seek out the other person.”

The therapy dogs will be in the Alkek Library on May 3 and May 4 from 1-­3 p.m. in the Instant Theater on the second floor. The dogs have been properly maintained so there is no concern of bites or diseases.

James Jordan II

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