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Dogs invade UI campus during finals week

BY BRENT GRIFFITHS | DECEMBER 13, 2012 6:30 AM

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Smiles began to spread across faces of University of Iowa students — a seemingly odd sight given the usually stressful finals week.

“I love it, and it’s a great way to relieve stress after studying for 24 hours,” UI sophomore Matt Jordan said. “You can’t be stressed when you’re playing with a dog.”

This show of emotion is linked to the eagerly awaiting Magic and Sage. The miniature schnauzer and Great Pyrenees made their second trip to the UI as students clamored for more visits from the pooches.

“We were really overwhelmed by how much support we have received,” said Claire Sabitt, a co-president and founder of UI Promoting Animal Welfare and Society.

The group, which held Wednesday night’s event in the IMU, originally planned for a smaller space — until approximately 300 students showed up to a Dec. 6 event. The group decided to move to a larger room in the IMU to accommodate the masses for the event held Wednesday.

This is the first year the organization has offered students relief from “most stressful time of the year,” which is made up of dogs from organizations including the Therapy Dogs of Johnson County and Corridor Therapy Dogs.

“It’s wonderful. All they want to talk about is their dogs, and they release a lot of tension after being stuck and cooped up,” said Janet Hoffman, the president of Corridor Therapy Dogs, which is based in Cedar Rapids.

The Main Library held separate events to this beginning last spring, which one official said was inspired by other colleges that hold similar events. The library has received positive feedback about the event, and some students even asked for more events to be held besides finals time.

“One [student] response said ‘I’m ecstatic to take my finals now,’ ” said Janalyn Moss, a UI American History librarian. “I wouldn’t go that far, but feedback from students has been extremely positive.”

Owners of the dogs are volunteers who are paid a small honorarium by the organization, but one owner said her joy comes from seeing student’s reactions.

“The joy is everywhere, because everywhere you look someone is smiling,” said. Barbara Boyle, the owner of Sage. “The dogs really bring out their joy and relieve stress.”

Another factor — which attracts some dog owners — is the opportunity to see another dog since theirs is back at home.

“I have a dog at home, and it makes me think of home, which helps me relax,” UI junior Katie Lazzara said.

Sabitt said the event has received such positive feedback that the group is considering expanding future offerings of the finals week reprieve to possibly include some events around the time of midterm exams.

“The minute I walked in here, I felt a lot better and a lot more relaxed,” UI freshmen Sydney Wagner said.


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