Dogs aren't normally allowed in the library. But on the last Thursday of every month, Newman Library makes an exception.
A new program sponsored by VT Helping P.A.W.S., or Pet Assisted Wellness Service, provides students with stress relief while giving a group of therapy dogs an opportunity to be around large crowds of people.
"It brings together groups of people that might never talk to each other, and they can relate about their dogs at home, or bond over their love of animals," said Bess Pierce, the director of Center for Animal Human Relationships.
"I think its a great study break. It almost seems that everyone has really hit the ground running this first week, and its a really nice change of pace to come into the library and delay with a cute dog or cat," said Travis Roth, a junior mechanical engineering major.
Therapy dogs differ from assistance dogs in they are meant to provide comfort, and are not trained to help a person with disabilities. The dogs who are the most social are selected and go through an intensive series of training programs and need to be able to be around other people and dogs on a regular basis.
Not only are the dogs benefitting from the exposure around people, but the students enjoy being able to pet a variety of furry friends.
"We just wanted to do something for students to help them relieve their stress," said Laura Purcell, the communications coordinator for the library. "When the dogs come, you could feel the stress relief."