Therapy Dogs Provide Comfort and Affection to Tufts
Students During Exams
It was insanely fabulous," says Laurie Sabol, Tisch Library
Instruction Coordinator, of the crowd of students who showed up on
Friday, December 13 to play with four dogs, brought in to help
students de-stress during exam week. "We thought twenty or thirty
students would show up and instead we had over 200," said Megan
Kiely Mueller, A08, G10, G13, Research Assistant Professor at Tufts'
Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, who coordinated with Sabol
on the project.
Ben E, a therapy dog, helps students take a study break at Tisch Library. (Alonso Nichols/Tufts University)
The dogs—Jett, Penn, Sophie and Ben E.—are part of
People, the Cummings School
affiliate of Pet Partners, a national organization that registers
Among the faculty and staff from both campuses who joined the
students, were Cummings faculty advisor Lisa Freeman, who brought
her dog, Penny, and Dr. Deb Linder, who supervises the Paws for
People program at Cummings.
"The event showed how connected people are to animals," says
Mueller. "For students at Tufts, there's a strong desire to see
animals, pet them and talk to them. Many students miss their dogs at
home. It's a huge part of their daily lives that doesn't exist at
"We had students who said they'd been waiting all day for this," says Sabol. "They knew at 4:30 pm they could take break and see the
dogs." Although therapy dogs have visited students at Tufts' dorms
in the past during finals week, adds Sabol, the library was a
perfect place for the event as so many students are already on site
during final exams.
Sophie,a therapy dog, helps students take a study break. (Alonso Nichols/Tufts University)
Sabol contacted Mueller about a collaboration between Paws for
People and the Tisch Library after hearing about a similar event at
another university library, and reading about Mueller's research on
human animal interaction in
Mueller's research focuses on how animals and people help each other
and the ways human-animal interactions molds healthy development in
childhood and adolescence—from building character to community
involvement to success in the classroom.
Therapy dogs are trained to provide affection and comfort to people,
and often visit hospitals, nursing homes and schools. Obedience is
part of the training, but dogs are tested for their aptitude for
therapy work. Says Mueller, "they They must be able to tolerate
heavy, clumsy petting and abrupt noises."
Megan K Mueller, Research Assistant Professor at the
Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, brought her dog Jett to help students
take a study break. (Alonso Nichols/Tufts University)
Mueller owns one of the four therapy dogs, Jett, a black Labrador
retriever mix. Jett just passed his therapy dog evaluation in
November, and Mueller says he relished "having a couple hundred
students there to greet him at the library—a dream come true."