For Law Students With Everything, Dog Therapy for Stress
Published: March 21, 2011
Black’s Law Dictionary? Check.
Bob Child/Associated Press
Details about Monty, the Yale Law School therapy dog, have been kept quiet. The dog pictured is Mugsy, who had a stint as Yale’s mascot, Handsome Dan, starting in 2005.
An Introduction to Legal Reasoning? Check.
Small, cute dog? Check.
Yale Law School, renowned for competitiveness and its Supreme Court justices, is embarking on a pilot program next week in which students can check out a “therapy dog” named Monty along with the library’s collection of more than one million books.
While the law school is saying little so far about its dog-lending program, it has distributed a memo to students with the basics: that Monty will be available at the circulation desk to stressed-out students for 30 minutes at a time beginning Monday, for a three-day trial run.
“It is well documented that visits from therapy dogs have resulted in increased happiness, calmness and overall emotional well-being,” Blair Kauffman, the law librarian, wrote in an e-mail to students.
The school is not saying what sort of dog Monty is; what happens to him when school is out of session; or how Monty himself may be kept from becoming overstressed with all his play dates.
Sebastian Swett, 26, a second-year student at the law school, said he had signed up for a session with the dog, but does not necessarily think that it will relieve all the pressures that come with being a student at Yale. “I don’t think its going to solve anybody’s anxiety problems, but it’s certainly nice to play with a dog for half an hour.”
Monty, according to the memo to students, is hypoallergenic and will be kept in a nonpublic space inside the library, presumably away from those who don’t much like dogs.
“We will need your feedback and comments to help us decide if this will be a permanent ongoing program available during stressful periods of the semester, for example, during examinations,” the note to students reads.
A handful of other universities offer similar services, including the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh.
Yale Law School has kept its dog-lending plan so quiet that some faculty members were not even aware of it.
“I’m surprised to hear of it,” said John Witt, a professor who was awarded a Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship last year for a project on the laws of war through American history. “I’ve always found library books to be therapeutic. But maybe that’s just me.”