Time Out for a Tummy Rub?Posted by Stephanie Ulmer, Guest Blogger on January 13, 2012
Law students around the nation are headed back to school from a well-earned and much-needed break after year-end exams. Exams mean precious family time, personal time, and just plain time for anything else give way to the never-ending nights in a study cubicle at the law library. Law school is meant to be punishing, and finding ways to relieve stress while earning a J.D. can be elusive. So it is quite encouraging that some law schools have introduced warm hearts, cold noses, and four paws to help students get through these stress-filled days. Partnering with many local rescue and shelter groups, the schools have made many homeless and adoptable puppies and dogs available for tummy rubs and ear nuzzling just when the students (and dogs!) need it most.
The Washington Post has caught on to the trend, reporting that “After the Yale Law Library added a ‘therapy dog’ named Monty to its collection in the spring, a number of other law schools have used the gentle yapping of puppies to break the stifling pressure that blankets their campuses.” Most recently, George Mason University School of Law partnered with a rescue group for “Puppy Day” for the second time, to students’ delight. One student even said that taking time out to hold a squirming puppy made her feel human again. Other schools that offer therapy dog programs to their students include Stetson University College of Law in Florida, University of San Francisco School of Law, and the University of Arizona College of Law.
An additional plus to the therapy concept has to be that introducing homeless and adoptable dogs to law students who might not otherwise get an opportunity to go to a shelter to find a companion may just spark a love connection at one of these events. A dog who might otherwise wait a long time at the shelter may just find the perfect forever-home with a law student who appreciates the love only a dog can provide. Opportunities to introduce pets that need homes to potential adopters have to be applauded, because those opportunities can lead to positive and immediate results for all parties. A case in point: Michael Phelps, the Olympic gold medalist swimmer, was recently on NBC’s Today show to discuss the 2010 Olympic Games when he was conscripted into helping out with an unrelated adoptable dogs segment. He fell in love, and long story short, he adopted the dog he introduced. Such a story could not have been scripted better!
It has to be true that just the sight of a puppy can automatically make one’s heart feel lighter. And the touch of smooth, silky, or coarse fur between one’s fingers can make even the most anxious or nervous test-taker smile. Can it be that the soothing presence of a dog can almost (almost!) make law school exams bearable?