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Therapy Dogs at Fondren Library

More than 350 SMU students, faculty and staff members took a few minutes to shake hands, high-five and just hang out with visiting therapy dogs at Central University Libraries' Paws and Take a Break pre-finals study break in December.

Five volunteers with Paws Across Texas, a Fort Worth-based nonprofit group, and their registered therapy dogs immediately attracted a crowd of students when they arrived around 11 a.m. at the Touch Learning Center, located on the first floor of Fondren Library East.

Gopika Shah, an SMU junior majoring in economics in Dedman College, was among the first to spend some time cuddling with the canine stress-relievers. "This is so relaxing. It really is taking my mind off finals," she said.

Hollie Gardner, CUL's user experience librarian, worked with SMU's Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center and Paws Across Texas to offer the four-hour event as a fun way for students to relax as they prepared for finals.

"I watched students come into the room, looking tense from studying, and saw them leave with smiles on their faces," Gardner said. "It was also remarkable to witness students who did not know each other gather around the dogs and spend some time talking amongst themselves or with the Paws Across Texas representatives."

The event was the first of its kind for the library, so CUL staff asked students to fill out comment cards to gauge interest.

"The response was overwhelmingly positive," Gardner said. "We collected 225 comment cards, and more than half stated that they wanted more dogs and/or more events. We're already planning another therapy-dog visit this spring."