Oxford students relax with therapy dogs ahead of final exams

Daniel Christian •

Sassy, a gray goldendoodle, helped students relax as they prepared for final exams.
Sassy, a gray goldendoodle, helped students relax as they prepared for final exams.

On Reading Day, students unwound from finals stress with therapy dogs in the library.

Each December, the Oxford College Library is full of students locked into studying, their heads buried in books and their hands flipping through notes as they prepare for final exams. But on Wednesday, December 8, there was a different, more relaxed feeling in the air. Dogs milled about the common area and curled up beside students looking for a study break.

Emory brings therapy animals to campus each year so students can enjoy their calming company amid the stress of finals preparation. At Oxford, the three dogs at this year’s “Paws for a Study Break” event were courtesy of Go Team Therapy Dogs, an organization that works in schools, nursing homes, community events, and more.

From 10:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m., students came to the Oxford Library to get their minds off tests and papers. On the Quad outside, word of therapy dogs spread among passersby, as those leaving the library encouraged those just arriving to head inside, pet the animals, and relax.

“We always have a great turn out for our ‘Paws for a Study Break’ event,” said Jessica Robinson, Director of Library Finances and Operations. “Hopefully it reduces stress and anxiety for the students.”

A gray goldendoodle named Sassy was the star of this year’s gathering, as students formed a circle around her, took turns petting her, and delighted in her warm and gentle spirit. 

“What I love about this work is just bringing joy to people,” said Debbie Bellamy, Go Team leader and dog handler. “And Sassy has always been very drawn to people. She loves to walk up and say hello.”

Oxford student Galya Fischer was among those gathered to greet her. Her own dog passed away earlier this year. She has missed her friend and felt comforted by Sassy’s presence. With exams looming, she was at ease knowing she could spend time with “a living, breathing being that is soft and comfortable and there for you.”

Likewise, Sassy reminded Oxford student Mark Buenvenida of his dog at home.

“His name is Toby,” he said. “I miss him a lot. This makes me feel less away from home.” 

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