Pups help college students cope with stress of final exams

ATLANTA -- Just down the hall from the reference desk at Emory University's law library in a room housing antique legal texts is Stanley the golden retriever puppy, barking his head off.

Stanley rolls around on the floor and chews on a squeaky toy while law students wander in, a giant grin breaking out on their weary faces when they see the cuddly pup. Puppy therapy -- just in time for finals week.

From Kent State University in Ohio to Macalester College in Minnesota, more and more pooches are around campus during exams to help students relax and maybe even crack a smile.

"We had a student who came in and a staff person commented they had never seen that student smile," said Richelle Reid, a law librarian who started Emory's pet therapy program this year after hearing about one at the University of California, San Francisco. "It has had positive effects, helping them to just have a moment to clear their minds and not have to think about studies, not have to think about books."

Pups are in counseling centers for students to visit regularly or faculty and staffers bring their pets to lift spirits.

Pet-friendly dorms are also popping up where students can bring their dogs or cats from home.

Want to check out a pet?

It's possible at Harvard Medical School and Yale Law School, which both have resident therapy dogs in their libraries that can be borrowed through the card catalog just like a book.

Research shows that interaction with pets decreases the level of cortisol -- or stress hormone -- in people and increases endorphins, known as the happiness hormone.