Relieve Exam Stress With "Library Paws"

04/23/2012
Contact: Rebecca Rakoczy
Phone: 678-891-2691
Fax: 678-891-2966
Author: Rebecca Rakoczy

For Immediate Release

She’s big, fluffy and white, and she’ll be at Georgia Perimeter College  to help relieve stress.

No, she’s not a giant marshmallow—but she does look a bit like a gentle polar bear. She’s Nellie, a Great Pyrenees trained animal therapy dog. Nellie is “participating” in a pilot program called “Library Paws” at the GPC Clarkston Campus library.

Owned by Elaine Bryan, a GPC physical education professor, Nellie is trained as a Reading Paws ® dog. She is one of trio of furry canines –including a West Highland Terrier and an American Pit Bull—that will be available for students to pet, hug, or cuddle while taking a short break from studying for exams. The dogs will be available for “pet therapy” on the third floor of the library during designated times April 30-May 2.

Nellie came by for a trial run recently at the library, and attracted instant attention, as students asked to pet her and take her picture. “I am so happy to have her here—I needed someone to cuddle with,” said Zauditu Kaza-Amlak, a GPC psychology student studying for her finals at the library. “You know this dog is not stressing out over school—just petting her helps me not to explode with stress,” she added.
That’s the idea, said Eva Lautemann, GPC’s Clarkston library director. “Studies have shown that when people are stressed out animal therapy can help. And I can’t imagine anyone who isn’t stressed out at finals time including faculty and staff.”

The Library Paws program is modeled after the national Reading Paws program, which uses dogs that have been trained to sit quietly while children read. “These dogs are trained to go to public libraries and sit with children who are reluctant to read out loud, but they will read to a dog,” Lautemann says. “They help build confidence. “ Lautemann got the idea of starting an animal therapy stress-relief program at GPC, after reading about how one residential college used dogs to help relieve student stress during finals.

Lautemann adds that she is aware some people are afraid of dogs, and there will be no attempt to make anyone pet the dogs. “Petting the dogs is strictly voluntary,” she says.
But she’s betting there will be a lot of volunteers. For information on the Library Paws program at GPC, go to http://guides.gpc.edu/PAWS