Dec 17, 2012 1:00 PM by Lauren Molenburg
GRANVILLE, Ohio (AP) - There are some things you just don't see often on campus, Becky Ramsey said. Like really old people. Or babies. Or pets.
So when a dozen little beasts were trotted into the Denison University library this week, Ramsey and two friends showed up to ooh and coo and run their fingers through some puppy fur.
"It's a fun break," said Emily Sferra, a senior from Toledo.
The women pawed at a 2-year-old pile of fuzz called Oscar, so named because the goofy Labradoodle reminded his owners of a Muppet. They moved on to the next pup, a big golden retriever that looked like it was smiling. And though this was nice, smooshing their faces against cute dogs rather than blurry computer screens, they couldn't beat away the unwelcome thought of finals week.
"I'm still pretty stressed," said Ramsey, a senior from Chicago with one exam and three papers looming in the next week.
Colleges and universities have long tried to ease the tension of students facing make-or-break tests by offering everything from massages to yoga classes during finals week. Some hand out free breakfast or throw pizza parties. This year at Ohio State University, stressed-out students were invited to take out their frustration on bubble wrap.
Denison and other schools across the country, including the University of Dayton, bring in the big dogs - and a lot of little ones - to try to calm everyone. Studies have shown that interaction with friendly pets can lower blood pressure and lift spirits.
Last year, Denison library associate Susan Rice thought it was worth bringing in four therapy dogs to see how the students responded.
"It was a very happy event," said Rice, a dog lover and former shelter volunteer.
It was such a hit that they tripled the number of dogs this year. Still, this week at the library there were so many students surrounding the pooches from Therapy Dogs Inc. that it was hard to spot them at first.
But there they were: Oscar, that 70-pound attention-loving Muppet; Fly, a purse-size Papillon with a Christmas collar and ears as big as his face; and Rueger, a chocolate-colored Doberman whose owner got him to help her son recover from injuries he suffered in the Iraq war. No two dogs looked alike.
The students were all smiles and high-pitched squeals.
"I'm super happy," said Becca Jost, a senior from Heidelberg, Germany, stooping to scratch Oscar. "I love this ... it's always nice to play with dogs."
Beside her, senior David Calhoun agreed. But neither of them seemed too worried about the week ahead. To Calhoun, who's from Santa Fe, N.M., the dogs weren't so much a break as they were a start.
"This is a good last thing to do before I actually start studying," he said.
Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Photo Credit: The Columbus Dispatch
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