Students coming into the Story Library on the morning of Dec. 9 were met with a surprise guest on campus. Ernie, a 5-year-old Great Pyrenees, is a registered therapy dog with Therapy Dogs International who was invited to comfort students during the stress of Finals Week, Dec. 9-12.
“I was really stressed for today and tomorrow, actually, and I came in, and [the dog] instantly put a smile on my face,” said junior Peyton Kendrick.
Ernie greeted all students walking into the library and was happy to be petted and surrounded by students.
“He’s just a ball of joy,” said Kendrick.
The guest’s appearance was arranged by Allison Lightfoot, public services librarian, after seeing other schools having support animals during Finals Week.
“I thought for students, if you’re stressed about taking tests, it might help calm people down,” said Lightfoot.
Lightfoot said she first discovered the power of a therapy dog while traveling at the airport. Her husband is scared of flying and the airport’s support dog was an instant relief to him and a reminder of their puppies at home.
“If you’re away from home, it can give you someone to love on, and if you are missing your pet, then you can kind of love on a dog, and I know especially for kids in the dorm, you may not get that kind of interaction very much,” said Lightfoot.
Spending time with Ernie while he works is not only a joy for the students, but also for his handler, Leslie Eurn.
“I love the opportunity for him. I love for other people to get to experience him because he’s just an awesome dog and he loves, loves, loves his job, and who wouldn’t?” said Eurn.
There are planned visits from therapy dogs again on Tuesday and Wednesday in the Story Library.