The Return of Therapy Dog Fenway

Isaak Kifle

The end of the semester is approaching once again…standing in the way of graduation for some and a much-needed summer break for everyone. It is almost time for final exams. Everyone will be moving into the Marvin K. Peterson Library and, soon, finding space will become a game of musical chairs. Fortunately, the library will be open 24/7 until the end of finals, so those of who are unable to find a space at 8 p.m., for example, may find opportunity knocking at the wondrous hour of 3 a.m.

An idea that some other universities have implemented, and one the University of New Haven first utilized last semester, was bringing in a therapy dog to relieve final exam stress. A therapy dog is trained and certified to provide comfort to people in various public settings, including schools and hospitals.

For example, therapy dogs are used with early elementary school students, where the students will practice reading to the dog to increase their reading confidence. Dr. Melissa Whitson, Assistant Professor of Psychology at UNH, is part of a certified therapy dog team along with her dog Fenway. Fenway is a six-year-old hypoallergenic Bichon Frise/Poodle mix and has gone through a rigorous certification process by the American Kennel Club and Delta Society.

Last semester, Dr. Whitson worked with Hanko Dobi, University Librarian, to bring Fenway to campus and arrange times that students could meet with, pet, cuddle and play with him.

This semester, Fenway will be available in the library on Thursday, May 9, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Monday, May 13, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and Wednesday, May 15, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Fenway’s return is a testament to the popularity of the idea when it was implemented last semester; many students took advantage of the opportunity to play with him.

Lastly, students can rest assured that Fenway won’t bite, so make sure you don’t miss your chance to see him.