Published: Dec. 7, 2015

In late November and early December, CU-Boulder University Libraries and Colorado Law gave students a unique way to de-stress before finals: Pet a therapy dog. Bark Buddies and Paws to Refresh provided registered therapy dogs to spend time with students in six of the university’s libraries.

“College is definitely rough (ruff!) without a dog,” said Colton Galley, a freshman from Crested Butte, Colorado. “I miss my dog so much. It helps to pet a dog. It’s a really cool program.”

Galley was one of nearly 30 students who arrived within minutes of the second Bark Buddies event, held in the L.H. Gemmill Library of Engineering on Nov. 19. He has two labs at home.

“It’s a really important way for students to take a break, to relax,” said Jane Collier, volunteer coordinator with Therapy Dogs of Boulder County. “Students have a lot on their plates right now. It’s an opportunity for them to rest up for what’s coming next.”

Collier coordinates the schedules of the dogs and their owners for both programs. She often brings her golden lab Cooper to the events.

“It’s like he (Cooper) soaks up everybody’s stress and sleeps it off,” said Collier. “Being around dogs has such a calming effect. It’s practice for the dogs. The more exposure to people and hands, the better. It’s a win-win for the dogs and the students.”

Bark Buddies, sponsored by the University Libraries and the Division of Student Affairs, began in fall 2014. It follows in the footsteps of Paws to Refresh, which began in fall 2012 in the Wise Law Library. Both programs are open to students, faculty and staff.

“Everyone knows the stress level increases to an unnatural level pre-finals and during actual finals week in college,” said Robyn Copeland, circulation manager at the William A. Wise Law Library and coordinator of Paws to Refresh. “Therapy dogs have been used in the healthcare field for years with proven results of lowering blood pressure, anxiety and even reducing effects of disease and maladies. It’s a wonderful way to forget about your stress for 15 to 20 minutes of love.”

Leandre Mills, a freshman from Port Huron, Michigan, has a black lab and four cats at home. She said programs like this help her manage symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.

“It takes your mind off everything, especially for anyone who struggles with mental illness or stress,” she said. “The dogs don’t discriminate. Puppies are love.”

Bark Buddies concluded its fall series on Dec. 3 in Norlin Library. Paws to Refresh runs Dec. 7-11, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., in the lobby on the first floor of Wolf Law Building. For more information about Paws to Refresh, visit the William A. Wise Law Library website.