Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Dogs Give UW Students A Break

We didn’t have pet therapy study breaks back when I was a college student. We studied all day and all night for finals and didn’t sleep for two weeks and the tests were much harder back then and you were lucky if you got a “C”.

Yah, right.

Today, it’s much different. My college experiences from the ‘60’s are a world apart from my kids’ experiences. But then they never had the unforgettable experience of walking to class through teargas and phalanxes of cops and protesters.

And, I can’t remember having to take a final exam on Mother’s Day, as my son has to do Sunday, splitting time between mom and hitting the books.

If the weather holds up this afternoon, staff from UW Counseling and Consultation Services will bring their dogs to Library Mall from 3:30 until 5, to let the hard-studying students get a chance to pet and play with them – something the experts say is a known stress-reducer. If Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate, it’ll happen Friday afternoon.

And the dogs won’t mind it a bit.

UW Health psychologist Bob McGrath says pet therapy has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure, and lift moods. So there are benefits to the dogs…who will no doubt soak in all the pets they can…and the students, who get a nice break from studying.

Counseling staff will also be hanging out, available to chat informally about end-of-semester stress, and to offer advice on how to lighten the load.

Back in my day, all the motivation we needed was to know that if the old GPA wasn’t high enough, we’d get a letter from our draft board back at home, informing us that the coveted “2-S” deferment was going bye-bye. At least, for the guys. Girls, I believe, were more serious back then about studying, and still are. My daughter got her UW degree in three and a half years; my son is on the now-familiar five-and-a-half year plan.

That ill-conceived, foolish, and deadly Indo-China war back in the day was a real “motivator”.

A college education today is also far, far more costly than it was back in the ‘60’s, and from what I’ve heard of my kids’ experiences…and stuff like this pet therapy break today…the UW is far more serious about helping kids get through school successfully.

So if they’re offered a free therapy session on the Library Mall to play with some nice dogs for a while, I’m all for it. You gotta take your breaks where you can find them!

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