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Campus Canines helping students destress before finals week

Students at the University of North Florida have been flocking to the library before finals week to study for their big exams, and the library organized some events like visits from the Campus Canines to help students calm their pre-test nerves.

The Campus Canines are therapy dogs who usually visit the library once a week, but they visited four days last week to prepare students for final exams.

Librarian Marina Atilano organizes events at Thomas G. Carpenter Library throughout the year to boost student engagement while supporting them academically.

The Campus Canines started their weekly Tuesday library visits in 2021 but have been a part of the UNF community since 2019.

Atilano said the canines are a fun and easy way for the library to serve as a haven for students during this stressful time of the year.

“This is the most impactful but easiest program,” she said.

Students usually find the canines in the library, at Market Days and other places around campus. Last week, the furry friends visited the library for a few hours, Monday through Thursday. The library’s website has a full lineup of events.

Campus Canines’ leader Julie Schuneman regularly visits the library with Hudson, a 10-year-old Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Schuneman said the dogs always seem to bring joy to everyone they meet.

Hudson smiles up at his caretaker, Julie Schuneman. (Madelyn Schneider)

“You just watch people walk up to them and start smiling,” she said.

On Tuesday, Hudson was joined by Tucker, a golden retriever and Winnie, a Maltese-Yorkshire terrier mix.

Each of their handlers gave out collectible trading cards featuring statistics about the pups and their favorite hobbies. Several students took a break from studying to visit and pet the dogs.

Freshman Hannah Kalas took turns petting Tucker and Winnie.

“I think it’s so sweet how they’re all so love-y,” said Kalas. “You just see them, and you feel better.”

Hannah Kalas and other students gather around Tucker. (Madelyn Schneider)

Studies have proven that interacting with dogs lowers stress levels and blood pressure, decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

A 2023 Gallup poll showed that over half of college students experience feelings of stress and worry daily. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), 85% of college students report being overwhelmed by school at some point in the year.

Schuneman said she loves seeing the positive changes in students’ moods after interacting with the dogs.

For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].


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