There’s just something about dogs that makes you feel good.

This week and next week, calming canines are helping relax Montana State University students who are preparing for final exams.

“Paws to de-Stress” brings dogs from Intermountain Therapy Animals to Renne Library on campus.

“Stress levels rise around finals time on college campuses every year, and there’s research that shows that using animals in a therapy setting has multiple benefits, including reduced stress and reduced blood pressure,” said Jacqueline Frank, library commons assistant at MSU who started Paws to de-Stress this semester.

On Thursday, students sat in a circle on the floor around Ellie, a 6-year-old golden retriever, and Sophie, a 4-year-old Maltese.

“Sit pretty,” Dan Montague, a junior from Seattle studying mechanical engineering, told Sophie.

The little white dog sat up on its hind legs.

“Paddle,” continued Montague, dressed in black with ear piercings and a metal chain on his belt.

The dog stayed on its hind legs and paddled its front paws in the air. Montague fed it a treat.

Sophie and her handler, Sandy Watson, usually work with residents at Gallatin Valley nursing homes.

During the first two-hour period therapy dogs were available to MSU students, 261 people stopped by to pet the dogs, Frank said.

“This is the best idea ever,” said Rebecca Johnson, a sophomore from Ferndale, Wash., studying chemical engineering.

Butte sophomore Kaitlyn Okrusch agreed. She couldn’t stop smiling as she scratched Ellie.

Ellie and her handler, Mary Martin, often work with people in hospice.

“I have an organic chemistry final on Monday so this is perfect,” said Okrusch.

The therapy dogs will be available at the library from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. today, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday.

Amanda Ricker can be reached at aricker@dailychronicle.com or 582-2628. She is on Twitter at @amandaricker.

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