As medical students near the end of the semester, the stress of finishing assignments and taking final exams mounts. Students welcome brief periods of relaxation during busy days of studying… and more studying. Students enjoyed spending time with Canopy the therapy dog during Paws for Study Breaks held on October 27 and November 13. Research indicates that interaction with therapy dogs can temporarily affect the release of various neurotransmitters in the brain; levels of oxytocin and dopamine are increased, while cortisol levels are decreased.
Canopy is a 7-year-old hound mix. She is from Louisiana, where she was obtained from a rescue. She’s been a registered therapy dog for just over 2 years. She is also registered as a READ dog which means that she often travels into public schools to help students strengthen their reading skills by allowing students to read to her.
Her handler, Amy, is a doctoral student in psychology, working on her dissertation on the stress reducing benefits of interacting with therapy dogs. As a therapy dog-handler team, Amy and Canopy visit hospitals, libraries, nursing homes, and schools. They even created a therapy dog program at Kennedy-King College in Chicago in 2013.
The study breaks were sponsored by the Office of Student Development and Academic Counseling along with Pet Partners International.