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Campus holds event for finals stress-relief

Pet Stress Relief 3
An English Labrador with CAREing Paws high-fives CP President Melissa Saul.

Students worried about their final exams had a chance recently to spend time with some carefree canines.

The University of North Georgia's Dahlonega campus held a Finals Stress Relief event at the Library Technology Center featuring eight therapy dogs and one therapy cat to help students relax as they interacted with the animals and each other. Provided by CAREing Paws, Inc., the animals rotated every hour from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and ranged in size from a toy poodle to two fully-grown English Labradors.

"We're a local group of registered therapy teams that conducts visits in places such as nursing homes, hospitals, assisted living facilities, libraries, and schools," said Melissa Saul, president of CAREing Paws. "We also have special library programs where children come in to read to our dogs and cats, which have been very popular."

A toy poodle with CAREing Paws interacts with a student.
A toy poodle with CAREing Paws is held by a student.

The idea for the event was suggested by Mary Kay Crowell, who provides technical support to the Department of Nursing and is a certified dog trainer.

Amy Burger, assistant professor of library science, said that after Crowell made the suggestion many people came together to assist in making the event happen.

"There will also be counselors on hand for the duration of the event," counselor Monte KuyKendall said. "There will be four of us rotating throughout the day to provide additional support and assist with any student who may want to talk as well as visit with the animals."

Saul said she was very glad for the opportunity to help students during the stress-laden time of final exams.

"Last year we held a similar event at Georgia Perimeter College, and since then we have begun serving several other area colleges," Saul said. "Petting the animals relieves anxiety and stress and can improve health by doing things such as lowering blood-pressure. Students can come and just sit and talk or they can roll around on the floor with the dogs. Either way, the dogs love it just as much as the students do."

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