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Shepherd offers dog therapy to students stressed about final exams

ISSUED: 2 December 2016
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — A mob of students was gathered inside the front door of Shepherd University’s Scarborough Library Friday morning to take advantage of the opportunity to relieve final exam stress by petting puppies. The students were able to cuddle with happy service dogs in training from PurposeFULL Paws.

This was the first of two visits the canines are making to campus this semester. They will be in the library ready to interact with students again on Tuesday, December 6, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

PurposeFULL Paws is a nonprofit organization located in Bunker Hill that trains diabetic alert, mobility, autism service, and hearing dogs. Between four and eight dogs from a variety of breeds will be on campus to visit with students.

“Numerous studies have shown the positive benefits of pets and pet therapy,” said Dr. Colleen Nolan, dean of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and one of the organizers of the event.

Nolan said the dogs will offer students a chance to relieve some stress and the students will give the dogs an opportunity to further their training.

“These dogs and puppies are in various stages of training as service and/or assistance dogs,” Nolan said. “The dogs must have a basic level of obedience and understand the difference between working (usually when their vest is on) and not working (usually the vest is off). This will definitely help the dogs with their training.”

Nolan said if having the dogs on campus proves to be a positive experience for all involved, Shepherd might host more stress relief sessions in the future.

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