Puppy therapy on campus?

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Some UAA students have spoken in favor of “puppy rooms” on campus. Puppy rooms have been shown to benefit the health and wellbeing of humans. . Photo by Anne Norman.
Some UAA students have spoken in favor of “puppy rooms” on campus. Puppy rooms have been shown to benefit the health and wellbeing of humans. Photo by Anne Norman.

Feeling stressed? Pet a puppy.

According to Doug Markussen, director of the campus Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management Support Department or EHSRMS, UAA could join other campuses throughout the United States that have therapy dogs to help relieve stressed out students.

The key word is “could.”

“I’ve had many students and faculty, even administrators above me request animal or puppy therapy on campus,” Markussen said. “But no one has taken the initiative to make it happen.”

Last year, Yale Law School’s website introduced their therapy dog, Monty, which caused a worldwide media frenzy.

According to the article written by the dog’s owner, Jason Eiseman on Yale Law School’s website, students can book 20-minute appointments with Monty at the library.

Monty’s presence helps calm law students so stressed that their overloaded brains could explode unless they pet a puppy.

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Harvard Medical School has a 4-year-old Shih Tzu at its Countway Library as a registered therapy dog.

Harvard Medical School published an article that states, “Pets have been shown to lower blood pressure, improve recovery from heart disease, and even reduce rates of asthma and allergy in children who grow up with a Fido or a Frisky in the house. Pets also improve people’s psychological wellbeing and self-esteem.”

Last month, the UAA Bookstore posted a picture of a “puppy room” from a university in Canada and asked students what they thought.

The comments came flooding in: Yes! Absolutely! We should!

Markusson offered his contact information on the post, should anyone want to initiate a “puppy room” on campus. He never got that call.

Still, the post got the wheels spinning in people’s minds.

Bookstore events coordinator Rachel Epstein said she already has envisioned a grassy courtyard near the store’s ramp where the puppies could be. She said student clubs would be ideal in running shifts where visitors can come and shake paws with man’s best friend.

“I think it would also be great if we could work with animal shelters or other places that take in animals that need homes,” said english student Younger Oliver.

Markussen said if anyone wants make a  “puppy room” happen on campus, there are several regulations under EHSRMS’s Policy 39 that must be met. He could provide specific details to those interested.

Studies such as those conducted by Harvard Medical School provide evidence that puppy therapy promotes calmness, general happiness and friendliness. It’s a healthier alternative to booze, drugs and cigarettes.

So, who will take the initiative to bring the puppies to campus?


Those interested in a possible puppy therapy or kitten therapy room can contact Doug Markussen at dsmarkussen@uaa.alaska.edu.



  1. We should definitely have puppy therapy! I attended Seattle U for my second year of college, and they hosted end-of-the-quarter “De-Stress with Dogs” events, in which owners came in with their dogs for two to three hours. This was especially beneficial to me since I never had a dog of my own. These events were hosted in rooms that were about the size of an average 30-student classroom. They also provided snacks for students who came in. It was also a great opportunity for several students, including myself, to take a break from studying for finals.

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