Finals, uncertain future plans, and the general ups and downs of student life can be stessful, but playing with dogs might help relieve some of that tension.
Graduate student Stephanie Ku is testing this hypothesis at the MIT Puppy Lab, which is opening its doors on Tuesday.
“When there are dogs around to play with, people talk with each other and smile together. By interacting with dogs, they are building relationships, and it creates a sense of community,” said Sarah Goodman, a spokesman for MIT’s MindHandHeart Initiative, which is funding the lab. The initiative’s mission is to promote mental health and well-being, Goodman said.
Ku, the founder of the lab, is a student in MIT’s joint health sciences and technology program with Harvard University, Goodman said.
“So many owners are excited to share their furry best friends with others, and students cannot wait to meet them,” Ku said on the MIT News website.
The lab will be located in a lounge space on campus where students and members of the community can play with the dogs.
Therapy training and certification for the animals took place through the organization Dog B.O.N.E.S. Eight dog and handler teams have been approved, 10 are in training, and more are on a waiting list, Goodman said.
A golden retriever named Pythagoras, a Boston terrier named Beatrix Potter, and an Australian shepherd named Wingnut will be working at the lab, according to the lab’s Tumblr page.
The Puppy Lab is opening during National Mental Health Awareness Month.