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Retriever is golden as a stress reliever for Clarkson students

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POTSDAM — Clarkson University students got a break from the frenzied frustration of flash cards, outlines and essay writing by visiting a certified therapist in the library Tuesday — but this particular therapist had flowing red hair, almond-shaped eyes and a happy, wagging tail.

Rose the therapy dog brought some much needed stress release to the campus this week by spending an hour a day in the Harriet Call Burnap Memorial Library.

“We see ourselves as a resource for students,” said Mary K. Cabral, a reference librarian. “In the past, we’ve tried things like brain games to help students cool off during finals, but this made sense. We have a staff full of animal lovers.”

The golden retriever was accompanied by her owner, Joan K. Kogut of Potsdam.

“This is something I really believe in,” she said. “It is a win-win situation — the dog loves attention, and she brings smiles to the people.”

Students encircled Rose as she rolled onto her back and offered her belly for scratching. Sophomore Brittany Desiato stopped for a moment to pet the dog.

“I have five finals this week, but none today, thankfully,” she said. “I’ve been doing Mad-Libs and coloring to decompress, but the dog is pretty good.”

Ms. Kogut said Rose has a therapeutic pedigree.

“I’ve been doing this since the late ’90s. She’s a third-generation therapy dog,” she said. “Her mother and her grandmother were both therapy dogs too, but Rose just started this year.”

That is because this year Rose received her certification from Therapy Dogs International, a group that provides dogs and their handlers to visit schools, hospitals and other facilities. Ms. Kogut said therapy dogs were used to comfort people after Hurricane Katrina and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Rose is also trained as a hunting dog, participating in field trial competitions, said Ms. Kogut.

“You wouldn’t recognize her,” she said. “She has an on-off switch. On the field, she’s full of energy, but she senses this is a quieter environment.”

Alan Beadle, a junior, shared some affection with Rose.

“I’m a dog owner, I miss my dog back home, so this is nice,” he said. “Normally, I just kind of work through the stress, but there’s nothing like a dog.”

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