BOZEMAN - Montana State University's Renne Library is offering time with dogs as a unique way of helping students deal with the stresses of finals.
The new program, "Paws to de-Stress," provides two-hour blocks of time during the last two weeks of the semester for students to interact with certified therapy dogs. The program is a partnership between the library and Intermountain Therapy Animals, a non-profit organization that aims to enhance quality of life through human-animal bonds.
Late last week, MSU student Dan Montague gathered with dozens of other students in a back corner of the library to spend time with Jack, a five-year-old golden retriever, and Micah, a 12-year-old standard poodle.
"It's a good break," said Montague, a senior in mechanical engineering, after spending a few minutes with Jack.
Student Steven Wagner agreed. The senior Earth sciences major said he had spent the previous night working on a capstone paper and welcomed the opportunity to interact with the animals.
Paws to de-Stress has been popular so far, with more than 250 students attending sessions on both Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon of last week, said Doralyn Rossmann, a team leader and collection development librarian at Renne Library.
The library has been seeking ways to connect with students and help them throughout the semester, Rossmann added.
"Anything we can do to help reduce stress levels is good," she said.
Jacqueline Frank, a library commons assistant who is organizing the program along with reference librarian Mary Anne Hansen, said research shows that using dogs in a therapy setting has multiple benefits, including reduced blood pressure and decreased stress levels.
"Our library is committed to promoting student success, and Paws to De-Stress is one way we are doing just that," Frank said.
Remaining sessions with the therapy animals will be held from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, April 30; from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 1; and from 2-4 p.m. Thursday, May 2.
Questions may be directed to Frank at 994-3139 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information about Renne Library is available at http://www.lib.montana.edu.