PAWS Your Stress gives students a pause during Finals Week

Aisling Glocke


Video by Aisling Glocke

On Monday, December 3, students were treated to a canine surprise with the semesterly event PAWS Your Stress. The event brings in service dogs each semester, during finals week, to calm students down before taking their exams.

“We partner with an organization called Canine Companions for Independence,” said Maria Atilano, the Student Outreach Librarian at the Thomas G. Carpenter Library. “There’s a First Coast Chapter, here in Jacksonville and it’s basically made of volunteers that train and basically introduce service dogs into the community.”

Canine Companions for Independence is a non-profit organization that began in 1975. The program’s mission is to enhance the lives of people with disabilities with the help of highly trained assistance dogs. Vickie Smith, a volunteer puppy raiser for Canine Companions for Independence, has been with the company since 2010.

“What we do as volunteer puppy raisers is get the dogs when they’re eight weeks old and we have them for a year and a half, teach them thirty commands, and socialize them,” explained Smith. “This is a great way to socialize the dogs and from what I hear it’s the students favorite day of the year.”  

The library plans the event during finals week to help student destress before taking their final exams.

“There’s actually a lot of research out there about people and their stress levels when introduced with dogs, specifically, but animals as a whole,” Atilano explained. “It’s basically about your hormones and releasing stress levels. For students especially, it’s important during finals weeks.”

“We see the evidence of how it just calms the kids down,” said Smith “It’s just a destresser as they pet the dogs.”  The library will offer other final weeks events throughout the week, including free snacks, coloring games, and designated nap time rooms.

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