MADISON – A group of friendly dogs will be inviting students to take a study break from 3-5 p.m. on Wednesday, May 7, on the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Library Mall during UW-Madison’s Counseling and Consultation Services’ annual Pet Therapy event.

The dogs will be on leashes and will be accompanied by their owners, all of whom are staff at the counseling center, an arm of University Health Services (UHS). Students can chat with counselors about end-of-semester stress and ways of managing it, while relieving immediate stress by petting and playing with the dogs.

“With Pet Therapy, you don’t need to make an appointment,” says Bob McGrath, director of Counseling Services at UHS.  “It’s fun and informal and students can just be walking by or coming out of the library, and the dogs take their minds off whatever pressure they may be feeling, at least for a few minutes.

“Dogs don’t care about grades and exams,” he adds. “They’re just happy to see you.”

Research shows that petting a dog can reduce blood pressure and improve your mood and may even help reduce stress hormones, says McGrath, whose dog, Sadie, a brown Staffordshire terrier, never misses a Pet Therapy event.

“Lots of students miss their dogs when they’re away at school,” says McGrath, “and the dogs love the attention. We always get a good crowd every year.”

Even looking at a picture of a favorite pet can give students a mini-stress break.

McGrath acknowledges that while the event is called Pet Therapy, the only type of pet he can bring to Library Mall are dogs.

“I wish we could add horses,” he says. “But I don’t think we could have cats. The dogs and cats would give each other stress, and the cats probably wouldn’t enjoy it at all. That would defeat the purpose.”

In the event of rain or snow, the event will be moved to 3-5 p.m. Friday, May 9, also on Library Mall.
– Mary Makarushka, (608) 265-5231,
[email protected]