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A relaxing 'paws' during UConn finals

CONNOR LINSKEY, Chronicle Staff Writer | Published on 1/17/2022
A relaxing 'paws' during UConn finals

CONNOR LINSKEY
Chronicle Staff Writer

Weekend Edition, December 18-19, 2021

STORRS — With finals in full swing this past week, University of Connecticut students employed a little puppy power to cope with the high-pressure world of academia.

Thanks to the “Paws to Relax Program,” a little love from a friendly canine friend was just enough to push college students into a good place when studying.




UConn Reserve Services Coordinator Jo Ann Reynolds started the program back in 2010, bringing therapy dogs of all different breeds to the Homer Babbidge Library each final exam week.

Dogs take one-hour shifts where they connect with students, helping them to relax from a chaotic week of final exams.

Kate Fuller, head of reference and student success services, is set to coordinate the program next year. She noted it has been a hit with students.

“It’s a great experience for the students,” she said.

“They’re going through a lot of stress with their finals and they’re missing home and missing their own dogs.”

Several students noted the program has helped them handle final exams.

This is freshman Michele Iraci’s first experience taking final exams in college and she explained the dogs have helped with her mental health.

“Sometimes, you just need a dog to snuggle and take a minute to not study,” she said.

The program also helped freshman Marlee Susca de-stress from final exams.

“What’s better to relax with than a gigantic fluffy puppy?” she said.

One of the reasons for the popularity of the program is the diversity of the dogs.

Dogs of many different sizes, breeds and temperaments are brought to comfort students.

This semester’s program included appearances by a Welsh springer spaniel, a Shih Tzu and a Shetland sheepdog, among many other other breeds.

The canine program uses dogs from several therapy animal agencies, with the majority coming from Tails of Joy Inc.

The variety of dogs and the comfort they provided helped students during finals week.

“For me personally, I get a lot of relaxation and a lot of de-stress from being around these dogs,” said sophomore Trey Park.