Chapman U. to try puppy therapy


A Chapman University student group wanted to find a way to relieve stress during finals week, so it came up with an innovative approach: puppies.

On Wednesday, in the middle of “cram week,” a bunch of puppies will be stationed outside the university library for students to pet and play with. The event, called “Furry Friends for Finals,” is being organized by the university’s Active Minds club, which promotes mental awareness.

“It has been proven that having a dog helps relieve stress, so we thought it would be a cute idea if we brought some furry friends on campus,” said Jennifer Heinz, a sophomore and integrated educational studies major who helped organize the event.

Heinz said her poodle-and-Maltese mix, Bindi, helps her relax.

“I love my dog,” she said. “Dogs are always so happy and want to play, and that helps make you happier.”

Heinz said she’s received comments from other students expressing excitement about the cuddly canines.

“You can automatically see on someone’s face when something happy comes to them, and little dogs are a cute way of doing that,” she said.

“It’s a nice way to step back from reality and just be stress-free for a moment.”

Active Minds will also have pamphlets and resources available on how students can reduce stress and take care of themselves during finals, said Megan Brown, the group’s advisor and a counselor for Student Psychological Counseling Services.

“The puppies are to draw them in and give them something fun and relaxing that will help them de-stress, but it also provides them with resources to help them through finals as well,” Brown said.

Many students miss the pets they left behind at home, she said.

“Research has shown that animals can reduce anxiety and stress,” said Brown, who is also a licensed marriage and family therapist.

The pooches -- 10 Malteses, Yorkies, pugs and dachshunds -- will be provided by Puppies & Reptiles for Parties, a Torrance-based company.

The 6,000-student campus in Orange also offers other functions to help students with the stress of finals, including a “Midnight Breakfast” where pancakes, eggs and coffee are served by the chancellor and professors.