The medical community, and numerous pet advocates, have long touted that simply petting an animal can lower blood pressure, help depression and relieve stress.
And what group could be more stressed than a campus full of college students readying for finals?
As part of finals week, Penn State’s University Libraries offer up Destress Fest, which began Sunday and runs through Wednesday. The fest gives hard-studying students the chance to relax, play some games and have a snack.
On Monday, it also gave them a chance to put that whole petting theory to the test, thanks to Centre County PAWS and a 5-year-old shar pei/boxer mix named Tucker.
Tucker, along with PAWS staff members Catherine Conlan and Mike Warner, sat outside the Pattee and Paterno Libraries with the simple question: Would you like to pet a dog?
“We’ve gotten a lot of people come by today,” Warner said, as students and staff stopped to give Tucker a scratch behind the ears.
“People will come by and kind of sheepishly look at him till we ask if they want to pet him,” Conlan said, “then they’ll say yes.”
PAWS worked with the university’s risk management to decide which dog was going to be part of the fest, she said, saying Tucker loves people, so he was the perfect choice.
Tucker came to PAWS from another Pennsylvania humane society, Conlan said, and has been at the shelter for more than a year. He’s been to several events, including the Military Child Family Fun Fair and SpikesFest.
“He’s been the dog about town this spring,” she said.
Chris Masden, a Penn State sophomore, said Tucker was “awesome” after coming by the library to drop off some books.
Tucker is one of about 25 dogs currently housed at PAWS, Conlan said, and is up for adoption. The shelter also holds about 80 cats looking for homes, too.