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San Diego Colleges Use Dogs To Take Bite Out Of Exam Stress

Photo caption: Wally a 9-year-old retriever helps stressed out students at U.C. San Diego re...

Photo by Matthew Bowler

Wally a 9-year-old retriever helps stressed out students at U.C. San Diego relax during finals week. December 8, 2015.

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San Diego colleges use canine cuddle programs to calm anxious students during test time with licks, tummy rubs and hugs.

Final exams are coming to colleges across San Diego and therapy dogs are on campuses to help students de-stress during test time.

San Diego State University, San Diego Miramar College and UC San Diego have their own kind of canine programs designed to calm anxious students with licks, tummy rubs and hugs.

UCSD’s program, Therapy Fluffies, has been calming nerves for more than five years.

Freshman Belen Romero, 18, said she is anxious about her end of term exams.

“It’s been pretty stressful for me on an emotional level,” Romero said. “Trying to handle all this work on my own now.”

The pressure has been building up on Romero. She’s already feeling the burden of her student loans.

“It’s a lot of pressure to do well because you're paying so much money to go here,” Romero said.

But Wally, a nine-year-old retriever, helped calm her nerves with petting, panting and cuddling. Wally has been coming to UCSD’s Therapy Fluffies program since it started. Wally’s owner, Sharon Franks, helped get the tradition started.

“A lot of the students have dogs at home and they miss their dogs,” Franks said. “So this is a wonderful thing for the students. Everybody's happy.”

Romero said nothing replaces hanging out at her family home in Pasadena with her dogs, but Therapy Fluffies comes close.

“Let me just relax with the dogs, like I used to do at home,” Romero said. “I can relax with my dogs.”

Romero is switching majors from political science to philosophy. Romero has a lot on her academic plate and she loves how the dogs do not care about how she’s doing with her studies.

“It’s not like the dog is looking at you and is like, ‘What’s your GPA? What kind of classes are you taking this quarter? What are you taking next quarter?' They’re just like, 'Hey, pet me, I’m really soft.’"

Therapy Fluffies will be relaxing students for the rest of finals week.

SDSU has Baxter, a Cocker Spaniel, hanging out in the library through the end of finals. Miramar College has six dogs trying to take the bite out of finals.

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