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Woof! Puppies to invade campus

If you find yourself in finals week distress, MIT Libraries hopes to help you de-stress with its upcoming “Cookies with Canines” study breaks.

Dog BONES (Dogs Building Opportunities for Nurturing and Emotional Support), a Massachusetts nonprofit therapy dog organization, will be bringing dogs to take students’ minds off of finals, if only for a few furry minutes.

The canines will be at Hayden Library on Thursday from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Barker Library on Tuesday, Dec. 20, from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Twelve pairs of dogs and their volunteer human partners, including MIT Police Sergeant Cheryl N. Vossmer and her 8-month-old Lagotto Romagnolo, Beckett, are signed up to help with this study break offering.

“We’re hoping it will be a nice opportunity for students to take a break from studying and de-stress with a dog. If it’s a hit, we may do it again in the spring,” MIT Libraries Communications Officer Heather M. Denny said in an email to The Tech.

Ellen F. Duranceau, Program Manager for Scholarly Publishing and Licensing, helped coordinate the event after Director of Libraries Ann J. Wolpert saw another university library offering therapy dogs. “I consulted with the Libraries’ head of reference services Howard Silver about how we could offer a program, and he suggested that we add therapy dogs to the existing study breaks where we traditionally offered cookies. Thus Cookies With Canines was born,” Duranceau said.

Duranceau herself is a Dog BONES volunteer. “Since I’ve been involved as a volunteer in the therapy dogs organization Dog BONES for many years, I was immediately very engaged with the idea of having an event hosted by the MIT Libraries,” she said.

Though therapy dogs are commonly seen in nursing homes and hospitals, they are becoming an increasingly popular study break strategy for universities during finals. Dog BONES visited Tufts University on Nov. 10 during their busy midterm period. George Mason University School of Law has brought homeless, adoptable puppies to the school’s atrium during its final exams period.

This past April, Yale Law School announced it would offer a therapy dog borrowing program for each finals period, when students can “check out” Monty, a border terrier mix, from the Law library for 30 minutes at a time, according to the Yale Daily News.

Last spring, Simmons Hall hosted three Dog BONES canines for an hour. According to Ellen M. Essigmann PhD ’80, Simmons Hall Housemaster, “it was a wonderful event” for the nearly 50 students in attendance.

Afterwards, Essigmann said, students claimed “it was the best event we’d ever had.”

—Maggie Lloyd