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MTSU library invites students to ‘paws’ from studying, visit therapy dog

It’s almost time for midterm exams at MTSU, and students are searching for relief.

The James E. Walker Library, which offers students the atmosphere and resources they need to succeed, also offers relief in several forms, one of which wags his tail.

Kelsey Haggard, a junior digital animation major from Murfreesboro, pauses to pet Canyon the Therapy Dog at MTSU’s James E. Walker Library during his fall 2015 tour of duty. Canyon will be in the first floor library atrium on Feb. 29 and March 2 as students study for midterm exams. MTSU photos by J. Intintoli

Kelsey Haggard, a junior digital animation major from Murfreesboro, pauses to pet Canyon the Therapy Dog at MTSU’s James E. Walker Library during his fall 2015 tour of duty. Canyon will be in the first floor library atrium on Feb. 29 and March 2 as students study for midterm exams. MTSU photos by J. Intintoli

Canyon, a three-year-old Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever, will be in the first-floor library atrium from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 29, and from 9 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, March 2, for students to pet.

“It’s something that I’ve enjoyed being able to do, and I think it’s something that’s benefiting the students,” said Leah Chism, Canyon’s human companion, who is a junior organismal biology and ecology major from Murfreesboro.

While the students strive to earn their bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, Canyon has earned a few degrees of his own. He has Canine Good Citizen and Beginner Novice in obedience degrees from the American Kennel Club, and he’s also certified for therapy work by the New Jersey-based Therapy Dogs International.

“He got certified when he was a year old,” Chism said. “That’s pretty early, because most aren’t mature enough to get certified at that age.”

Chism did her homework as well. She trained for six years in various programs with animals more suited to work with mobility-challenged clients.

A veteran of several tours of duty at Walker Library, Canyon has made a favorable impression on students cracking the books.

“My social work classes have talked a lot about this, especially social work with disabled individuals,” said junior criminal justice major Matthew Poore of Clarksville, Tennessee. “We’ve gotten into a lot of detailed discussions about how animal therapy really helps people, increases their life span and stuff like that because they’re so much happier.”

Canyon’s visits are only one part of the library’s ongoing efforts to make studying easier for students. In 2012, the library underwent a major renovation to provide more group study rooms on all floors, and special first- and second-floor zones now allow groups to work — and talk — together in what used to be silent areas.

Quiet zones are designated on the third and fourth floors just beyond the elevators. A third-floor laptop bar enables students to plug in computers and other electronics and work quietly in front of a window overlooking the campus quadrangle.

The lounge, located on the first floor past the elevators, offers an even more relaxed learning atmosphere for students. This area features soft seating, newspapers, magazines, a collection of bestsellers and two large TV monitors with streaming news.

MTSU students take a study break to meet Canyon the Therapy Dog at the James E. Walker Library during his fall 2015 tour of duty. Canyon will be in the first floor library atrium on Feb. 29 and March 2 as students study for midterm exams.

MTSU students take a study break to meet Canyon the Therapy Dog at the James E. Walker Library during his fall 2015 tour of duty. Canyon will be in the first floor library atrium on Feb. 29 and March 2 as students study for midterm exams.

During the fall 2015 semester, the Walker Library reupholstered 150 lounge chairs and added four new laptop bars with charging ports. The library also provided more study rooms and extended study hours at students’ request.

Near the end of each fall and spring semester, MTSU’s Health Promotion Office distributes “relief kits,” which include hot tea or cocoa, aromatherapy sachets and candles.

“In our student health surveys, stress is the No. 1 factor that students identify as having a negative impact on their academics,” said Lisa Schrader, director of health promotion. “Students should know that they will do their best academically when they take even a small increment of time for themselves each day to recharge.”

Canyon the Therapy Dog’s stress-relieving appearances at Walker Library are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Kristen Keene at 615-898-5376 or kristen.keene@mtsu.edu.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

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