The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Furry Friday: Dog Therapy

Cooper, the resident therapy dog at Harvard Medical Schools Countway Library. (Photo from http
Cooper, the resident therapy dog at Harvard Medical School’s Countway Library. (Photo from http

Cooper, the resident therapy dog at Harvard Medical School’s Countway Library. (Photo from http

Harvard Medical School has a new resident therapist — it’s Cooper, a 4-year old Shih-Tzu. This lovable doctor has office hours every Tuesday and Thursday at Harvard Medical School’s Countway Library where students, faculty, and staff can take a break from work and studying to play with Cooper.

An article on the Harvard Health Blog discussed research that shows the benefits of meeting with Dr. Cooper. Studies have proven that dogs can lower blood pressure, help patients recover from heart disease, and reduce allergy and asthma rates in children.

But Megan McLellend, a senior accounting major at Southern Methodist University, said she doesn’t need a study to confirm the benefits of her dog, Trinket.

“I feel like every time I’m stressed out, just looking at her face brightens my day,” McLelland said.

Georite Frierson, a health psychologist and assistant professor at SMU, said that is one way dogs help improve your mental health; just being around something that is always pleasant and happy can help reduce stress.

“It’s not just having an animal in your home, it’s also your behavior and interaction with the dog,” Frierson said.

She explained that petting a dog can help relieve tension and lower blood pressure.

Several organizations are making use of these powerful pet therapists. Therapy Dogs International has about 24,000 registered therapy dogs across the U.S. and Canada. The TDI chapter in Dallas, Heart of Texas Therapy Dogs, takes their dog therapists to visit nursing homes, libraries, schools, medical facilities, and domestic abuse centers.

In college libraries like the Countway Library at Harvard medical school, these therapy dogs are located in a separate rooms or offices where students can take a healthy, much needed break from studying and reduce some stress.

There may come a day when Fondren implements such a program. Until then, spend plenty of time in a good therapy session with your dog and invite all your stressed out friends to come along.

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