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College Stress Remedy? Meet Northwestern's 'Happiness Club' Therapy Dogs College Stress Remedy? Meet Northwestern's 'Happiness Club' Therapy Dogs

College Stress Remedy? Meet Northwestern's 'Happiness Club' Therapy Dogs

by Liz Dwyer

March 24, 2013


Exam time is known for upping the college student stress ante—think of those moments when your laptop crashes and the 10-page paper you were working on disappears into a virtual black hole. (Yep, I'm speaking from experience.) Fortunately for students at Northwestern University, the school's 5-year-old Happiness Club has a much-needed stress reliever: Therapy dogs.

Happiness Club co-chair, 20-year-old sophomore Megan McPherson, told RedEyeChicago that the club—which has a mission to "foster a community of happiness at Northwestern through fun events and simple acts of kindness"—had long wanted to bring therapy dogs onto campus to help de-stress students.

The idea of using therapy dogs to help college students manage stress—especially during exam time—isn't an idea without precedent. In 2011 during spring semester finals, there were rumors that the library at Yale Law School had a therapy dog named Monty available for checkout in 30-minute increments. But, despite sightings of Monty, the school denied his existence. Northwestern, however, seems to have embraced the idea of therapy dogs since along with enlisting the help of a nonprofit, Rainbow Animal Assisted Therapy, McPherson partnered up with the school's student government body and the Counseling and Psychological Services office to bring the dogs to campus.

Two hours with the dogs had students forgetting about their study load. "Some kids were like, 'Oh my gosh, he looks just like my dog at home,' and they were really excited about that. I think everyone was just really happy to be able to pet a dog for a few minutes," said McPherson, adding that the dogs were a great "excuse for a study break." Sounds like that goal of fostering happiness and kindness was met. Now if only the dogs can make your laptop stop crashing and your lost paper reappear...

Therapy dog photo via Shutterstock

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