Therapy Dogs a Big Hit During Finals Week

By Derek Devine

During the busiest and most stressful time of the semester, students were able to take a break and interact with dogs of all kinds during back-to-back therapy dog visits in the Jane Bancroft Cook Library.

A therapy dog visits in the Jane Bancroft Cook Library.
A therapy dog visits in the Jane Bancroft Cook Library.

On the first day, three dogs made an appearance including Charlie, a former America’s Top Dog calendar model. The 13.5 year old American Eskimo and Pomeranian mix rocked a holiday sweater as students heard his owner, Donna, tell his inspiring story as a rescue dog who grew up to become a competitive dock driver and certified therapy dog. Day two played host to four more outgoing pups, including a couple of retired guide and service dogs from the local Southeastern Guide Dog program.

Librarian Helene Gold, who organized the event, knows how hectic this time of year can for students and how impactful a dog visit can be during exam week.

“Our students get so stressed out because the workload is so demanding and the expectations are so high,” says Gold. “I wanted to provide an event that could temporarily relieve some of that stress.”

Last week marked the first time that dogs paid a visit to the campus library. Gold reached out to the Humane Society of Sarasota County who was happy to send volunteers and their beloved dogs to New College.

“All it takes is a phone call to the humane society and it’s free,” says Gold. “Many of the volunteers are retirees who are excited for an opportunity to meet students and let them play with their dog.”

Beyond the fun of interacting with a furry friend, the event gave New College students an opportunity to interact intergenerationally and connect with members of the greater Sarasota community. “To have the dogs show up is so meaningful, especially for students who miss their pets at home,” says Gold. “It’s a chance to sit and relax and interact with pets and forget about the pressure of exam week for a few moments.”

When Gold was asked if students could expect more therapy dogs visits in the future, her answer was simple: “Absolutely.”

— Derek Devine is the social media manager at New College of Florida.

Located in Sarasota, New College of Florida has educated intellectually curious students for lives of great achievement since its founding in 1960. As the State of Florida’s designated honors college, New College provides an exceptional education that transforms students’ intellectual curiosity into personal accomplishment. The 110-acre campus on Sarasota Bay is home to more than 700 students and 80 full-time faculty engaged in interdisciplinary research and collaborative learning. New College offers nearly 40 areas of concentration for undergraduates and a master’s degree program in Data Science.

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