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Dogs relieve the stress of studying for final exams at Sacramento campuses

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Therapy dogs at the California State University, Sacramento (CSUS) campus are relieving the stress that accompanies finals week, says a December 10, 2013 Sacramento Bee article by Diana Lambert, "Dogs relieve finals stress at Sacramento State." You can find therapy dogs nowadays at doctors' offices, nursing homes, hospitals, and in airports besides strolling on leashes at some college campuses during finals week.

In Sacramento, therapy dogs go into nursing homes, hospitals, schools, and other places where people might be experiencing stress at various times of the year, including finals week on college campuses. The therapy dogs come from the dog therapy organization called Lend A Heart Lend A Hand Animal-Assisted Therapy, Inc. And therapy animals are not limited only to dogs: Cats, and rabbits, for example also can participate as therapy animals in addition to the dogs most people see when animal-assisted therapy is covered in the media.

Lend a Heart is an all-volunteer non-profit organization serving the greater Sacramento, California area. The organization's volunteers began providing animal-assisted therapy in 1987, when bringing pets into hospitals, schools and nursing homes was not as common or accepted as it is today, according to its website.

Through the dedication of its founding members, the organization's former and current volunteers, its loving pets and the support of local facilities, the benefits of animals in clinical, recreational and educational settings are realized daily in communities.

Lend a Heart has teamed up with more than 30 local organizations to provide regularly scheduled, monthly animal-assisted therapy programs

It's volunteers and their cats, dogs and rabbits attend programs together. Volunteers without pets are welcome too. Check out the site, About Lend a Heart. Or if you have a dog, cat, or rabbit you want to volunteer with to serve as a therapy or de-stressing prescence, check out the link, Join Lend A Heart. It's about lending a hand in animal-assisted therapy.

Yesterday, CSUS students petted dogs such as Chou Chou, Luca, Meka, Ringo and Wyatt, all of whom you can read about in the Sacramento Bee article, "Dogs relieve finals stress at Sacramento State." The reason why the dogs from Lend a Heart visited the Sacramento State University (CSUS) campus on a mission to help alleviate stress is because this is the week before most students are set to take finals.

The dogs brought smiles and laughter to the students as they stopped to pet and admire the therapy dogs

Students took turns snapping photos with the visiting therapy dogs. Counselors who observed the smiles and relaxation as students interacted with the therapy dogs were amazed at the calmness they brought to the stressed-out students studying night and day for their final exams next week.

If you've ever pulled an all-nighter or studied for hours for final exams, you know what the stress is like. To be able to pet a therapy animal on good behavior brings a sense of relaxation and calmness and at least a moment of de-stressing.

Lend a Heart, also takes therapy dogs to visit convalescent hospitals, adult day care programs and elementary schools, first came to CSUS last spring

This week, the organization brought some therapy dogs to the University of California, Davis and also to help de-stress those law students at the McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento: The goal? To help relieve some of the stress as students study for their final exams of the semester.

Some of the dog breeds brought to the campuses from Lend a Heart include Wyatt, the English shepherd, Chou Chou, the briard, Ringo, the Labrador retriever, and Meka, the dachshund decked in a red sweater, as well as other dog breeds. Students often are reminded of the pets they have at home, especially if they are living on campus and have others caring for their dogs that they miss.

The point is to de-stress. Dogs can do it and so can listening to relaxing music composed for de-stressing at this time of year when everything seems rushed, either for finals or holiday shopping. A crowd of students came to pet the therapy dogs, which brought smiles to their faces.

The holiday season can be extremely stressful for travelers and students cramming for final exams

Finals week is a difficult time to relax -- more so because it's close to the few weeks before the holidays with all the rush, shopping, extra eating, celebrations, and travel. Students and others need time to relax during the holiday season. Imagine if you're a student working at a job, going to classes, studying for finals, getting by with too little sleep and hours of study on top of the estrangement of living away from home for the first time, it's stressful around this time of year.

Besides working out or walking, listening to calming music, and watching what you eat, petting a therapy dog also helps relieve stress because it's not like petting a stranger's dog and not knowing if your hand will be bitten. Therapy dogs are trained to respond to people in ways that appear calming to both dog and human. Those not living away from home can walk their own dogs to relax and use up the dog's pent-up excess energy as well. Besides the usual counseling services on campuses, therapy dogs add another dimension to putting a smile on your face when you need it most.

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