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'Furry Friends for Finals' aims to take a bite out of stress

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By Sandy Sand     Dec 4, 2009 in Lifestyle
Animals have long been used to help relieve stress for hospitalized patients and have been used extensively to aid children with physical and mental difficulties.
But this might the first time they’ve been used on a university campus to ‘de-stress’ students through the hectic weeks of final examinations.
Furry Friends for Finals is the brainchild of Chapman University’s Active Minds club, the basic function of which is to promote mental awareness.
Jennifer Heinz, a sophomore and integrated educational studies major who helped organize the event, said:
"It has been proven that having a dog helps relieve stress, so we thought it would be a cute idea if we brought some furry friends on campus."
Relating how her poodle-Maltese mix, Bindi, help her relax, Heinz added:
"I love my dog. Dogs are always so happy and want to play, and that helps make you happier."
So far the reaction of students has been positive with many expressing excitement at the thought of taking a break during ‘cram week’ by playing with puppies.
"It's a nice way to step back from reality and just be stress-free for a moment," Heinz said.
In factoring in the stress-relieving abilities of dogs, they considered the fact that many students miss the pet they left at home and having puppies on campus brings a little of that to them.
The 10 canine stress-relievers -- Malteses, Yorkshire terriers, pugs and dachshunds -- will take their posts in front of the Chapman U. library on the Orange, California, campus, and will be provided by a Torrence-based company, Puppies & Reptiles for Parties.
Megan Brown, Active Minds advisor and a counselor for Student Psychological Counseling Services, said the group will also provide pamphlets and has resources available for students on how to reduce stress during finals.
In reference to the puppies, Brown said:
"Research has shown that animals can reduce anxiety and stress. The puppies are to draw them in and give them something fun and relaxing that will help them de-stress, but it also provides them with resources to help them through finals as well."
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