Therapy dog Milo, a standard poodle owned by Laura Reeve, left, paid a visit to Jessica Rhodes, right, a library assistant and junior at the College of Coastal Georgia. The four-legged friend came by the college Friday to help students release some of their stress while they prepared for final exams.
Late Friday afternoon, Jessica Rhodes had to give a major presentation on the topic of abnormal psychology to her professor and classmates. Adding to her workload, she and her college peers at the College of Coastal Georgia will be going through a rigorous round of final exams this week and next week.
"It's a stressful time of year, for sure," said Rhodes, a junior majoring in education who also works as an aide at the college library.
But it is also one of her favorite times of the year. During finals week, therapy dogs come to the library for several days to pay a visit to college students and to give them a slight reprieve from the pressure of the end of the semester with exams, final projects and presentations.
"This is my favorite part of working in the library. The therapy dog days are the best days of the year," said Rhodes as she petted Milo, a standard poodle owned by Laura Reeve.
Reeve, and fellow volunteer Dottie Brodhag, visited the college Friday morning with their dogs in tow. A part of the Georgia chapter of Therapy Dogs International, the two volunteers roamed the aisles of the library and squeezed between computer stations to let students play with the pups between their studies.
For the past several semesters, Debbie Holmes, dean of libraries for the college, has called on the four-legged friends to help her students ease through the anxiety-filled portion of the semester. The program, she said, has become a major success.
"There is just something about having a dog around that just relaxes you," Holmes said. "Final (exam) days are a high-pressure times for our students. This is one of our most popular events of the whole year."
For freshman art major Nick Lairsey, the day's doggie visit was clearly a highlight of his first year at the college. The Brunswick native is a true canine fan, so having the pups pay him and his friends a visit in the college library made study time a bit more bearable.
"This is my first time ever seeing these dogs in the library, so it's pretty cool," Lairsey said.
While the day's furry fun was new to Lairsey, it was nothing out of the ordinary for Milo and Dixie. The two dogs regularly take trip to area churches, schools, nursing homes and hospitals to help cheer up communities and bring a smile to stressed out faces.
"This is Milo's first time out here. We've loved doing this," said Reeve, Milo's owner. "The students are very responsive, and I think the dogs get as much out of this as the people do. I told Milo that now, he gets to go to college. I think he liked the idea."
For Milo, becoming a therapy dog was an adventure unto itself. The happy, tall standard grey poodle hails from Oklahoma, where Reeve bought him from a breeder. But on the flight to Georgia, the pup came down with an unknown illness.
After landing, Reeve quickly took Milo to the veterinarian, who predicted the dog would not pull through.
But as fate would have it, he did, and Reeve now uses his story to help inspire those who are dealing with hard times.
"When (Milo) landed, the name tag on his crate said Mojo, but I thought, during that flight, he lost his mojo. His name had to change," Reeve said. "It's special when you can take a hard experience and put it into a positive light. There is a lot to be said for looking on the bright side."