Vetstreet. All rights reserved. Powered by Brightspot.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
Therapy animals can make a big difference in people’s lives. Whether it’s a dog or cat therapy team, or even a pig or horse, these animals offer important benefits to those in need. While therapy pets are often found in hospitals and nursing homes, schools and universities are also enlisting their services to help students manage the stress of end-of-semester papers and finals. Playing with puppies certainly helps students deal with the pressure of exams, but could a therapy dog help with ongoing stress in their everyday academic lives?
Harvard Medical School is one of the few universities answering that question. Its Countway Library of Medicine is offering the services of a Shih Tzu therapy dog named Cooper to students, staff and faculty throughout the academic year — not just during finals.
Harvard Medical School researcher Dr. Loise Francisco is Cooper’s owner; she thought Cooper would be a good therapy dog due to his gentle, calm and understanding disposition. Dr. Francisco says that Cooper has compassionate eyes, likes people, and is also obedient — all of which are important traits for a therapy dog.
“I thought that it was a good way to give back to society and give Cooper’s life a purpose. He also seems to enjoy meeting new people,” says Dr. Francisco.
Cooper has been a therapy dog with an organization called Caring Canines for four years. He volunteers with them on weekends, visiting elderly-care facilities, rehabilitation hospitals and cancer centers.
Three years ago Cooper started making twice-weekly trips to Harvard, where Dr. Francisco and her husband both teach and do research. The couple wrote to the director of the Medical School Library to see if it was possible to start a therapy dog program using Cooper.
“As you can imagine, medicine and science are challenging fields," Dr. Francisco says. "The students and faculty on campus are very bright and driven people. With such intensity often comes stress. We thought it would be a great idea if anyone who wants to take a break from their busy and/or stressful day — they can relax or study with Cooper at their side."
Cooper seems to love his position at the library. Dr. Francisco says Cooper knows his way into the building from the parking garage, and he sprints through the double doors when he nears the library.
“I think it’s great that students and HMS staff have an outlet to relax or just spend time with a dog — perhaps they miss their own dog at home. I’ve noticed that when I drop Cooper off, all the patrons entering the library greet him with a smile and begin their day with a bit more levity,” she says.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Bartonella is a type bacteria that can be transmitted to cats, dogs and humans from exposure to infected fleas and…
Want to give your pup yummy, low-calorie treats? We’ve got the skinny on which foods are OK to feed him.
Not sure about food puzzles? Our veterinarian reveals why the payoff for your pet is well worth any extra work.
With these simple dental care tips, you can help keep your canine’s adorable smile shiny and healthy for life.
The friendly and inquisitive LaPerm has an easy-care coat that comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.