Therapy Dogs On A Mission To Embolden Test-Taking Students

A retired college professor in Pennsylvania has thought of an ingenious, and extremely cute, way to help students ease up before finals week. She is now leading a team of therapy dog handlers as they travel from campus to campus to try and lessen students' anxiety levels.

Volunteer Work

Mary Jalongo and her Indiana-based therapy dog group started their crusade 3 years ago at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where Jalongo taught for 38 years before retiring. During finals week, Jalongo and company would go to the library and offer their well-behaved pooches to students who badly need a break.

Trib Live reported that the therapy sessions were initially held in tents outside the library. It wasn't until later on when the college librarian allowed the dogs to roam inside the library.

"We inched our way in. It took a little bit of convincing. I remember saying to Theresa (McDevitt), a librarian who is my partner in crime, that one of my goals was to get dogs in that library before I retire," said Jalongo. "A lot of students will tell us this reminds them of their dogs back home. Then they'll break out their cellphones and show you the pictures."

Jalongo added that dogs have a unique way of connecting with students. She said interacting with dogs can reduce stress and lower blood pressure.

More Schools Offer Dog Therapy

Several other colleges in the US have quickly followed suit. The University of Connecticut now has a therapy dog session at Homer Babbidge Library from Monday afternoon all the way to Friday afternoon, as per Fox 61.

Meanwhile, the University of Pittsburgh's Gothic Commons Room of the Cathedral of Learning will be turned into a therapy dog playground every Tuesday evening. Seton Hill University in Greensburg, on the other hand, will soon be offering kitten therapy on top of the school's dog therapy program during midterms and finals weeks.

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