Furry Friends Help Rice Students De-Stress During Finals

Finals are a source of stress for many university students this time of year. Schools have been offering extended library hours and extra counseling sessions for a long time, but some colleges are coming up with quirky ways to help students tackle exams.

Something unusual is happening at Rice University. Students in the library are closing their laptops, putting away their textbooks and dropping to the floor.

"Scarlett! Come see all these people that want to see you!"

A dozen dogs of all shapes and sizes, plus a few cats, are enjoying belly rubs in the middle of a reference room.

"Bring up sound of shaking dog."

Rice is among a growing number of colleges bringing therapy dogs to students during finals week. The idea is that playing with a pet can decrease feelings of anxiety.

Agnes Ho is a Counselor at Rice.  She says it might seem silly, but bringing pets into the library really works.

"This is really helpful, as you can tell the students feel really excited when they see dogs coming in and they can take a break and they can step out of that very stressful moment like take a deep breath."

She says Rice organizes this and other events like catered study breaks and midnight breakfasts to remind students that they’re not alone. 

On the floor between two shelves, Senior Sam Newman is snuggling a Great Dane and a Chihuahua at the same time. He acknowledges that stress can be a real problem.

"Freshman fall was probably my hardest semester, actually, I was taking multivariable calculus and I hadn’t taken math n a few years, and it was kind of like a punch in the gut, but since then it’s been more smooth sailing, I guess."

Since then he’s picked up some tricks to manage his time better. He has some advice for underclassmen.

"Keep your wits about you. Make a list of all the things you have to do and try to get things done one at a time."

Rice first invited therapy dogs to campus last December, and they were such a huge hit with students that they decided to do it again.