Wagging tails break the stress of UW’s finals week

Petting dogs lowers blood pressure, pulse, anxiety
Wagging tails break the stress of UW’s finals week

More than 43,000 students on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus are all feeling the stress and pressure of finals week. You can visually see that stress manifesting on the faces of students as they study in buildings throughout campus.

What you can also see periodically is that stress broken by wagging tails.

“Pet therapy, we’re here to relieve a little stress for the students,” said Lance Williston, a volunteer with Dogs on Call.

The organization was created in Wisconsin in 2001 by five dog owners. In the years since it has grown to more than 100 dogs and their owners. They provide pet therapy during visits to hospitals, nursing homes and schools.

“We know that petting a dog lowers blood pressure, lowers pulse, lowers anxiety and helps with stress,” said Liz Morrison, a volunteer who also coordinates Dogs on Call visits to UW-Madison during finals.

The organization started visiting the university five years ago during finals week. They visit dorms, libraries and buildings where students are studying. The program has become extremely popular with students.

“Right now I get emails every day that I have to turn down because we can’t possibly get to everybody,” Morrison said.

During visits to the university Dogs on Call volunteers set up in common areas and let students visit with the dogs when they want to.

“I think this is great. I think it is a lot of fun having all these dogs around,” said Marcus Sellars, a UW-Madison engineering student. “We kind of forget about life a little bit, and this reminds us that there is beauty in the world beyond numbers on a piece of paper.”