Canines come to campus to provide finals stress relief - FOX 13 News

Canines come to campus to provide finals stress relief

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ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) -

It's cram time on the USF-St Pete campus.

"This is a very stressful week for the students," said Carol Hixson, Dean of the Library.

A pack of therapy dogs is becoming the students' new best friends.

"I have two dogs at home that I haven't been able to see for a while, so coming here and playing with some dogs made me really happy," said Ashley Hibbs.

It's stress therapy courtesy of "doctor dog."

"After a very stressful finals week, this is just amazing," said Allen Pinkerton.

All the dogs have good homes. In fact, they are here with their owners. It's a pet partnership so to speak -- owner and animal working together to help other people.

"We look at ourselves as a team," said Joann Rectine of Therapy Dogs International.

A team with a job to do. The setting isn't always so scholastic, though: Therapy Dogs International visits nursing homes and hospitals.

"I started doing this because my father had leukemia and he was in the Cleveland Clinic, and I was spending a lot of time away from home," Rechtine said.

She hopes her dog makes others feel comforted on lonely, worried nights.

"Every time I would go out on the street and see a dog, I would go out on a street and love on that dog. It just made me feel better," she said.

But does it work on finals? The proof is in the puppy love.

"The dog understands. You understand. They have a special connection," Pinkerton said.

"The positive uplifted energy will just relax me because I get really nervous on tests," Hibbs said.

She won't now, not today, with these tails wagging.

"It's a great way of making yourself happy for at least a few minutes if not the rest of the day," Pinkerton said.

This was a free service to the students. Therapy Dogs International has groups all across the country. The members of the local chapter had to pass a test, both human and dog had to take it. These are certified canine therapists, and they aim to make everyone feel better.

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