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Library Card? Check out Dog

September 16th, 2011

Libraries are a wealth of information. You can find reference material on almost any
subject. Some material you can find for yourself.

For instance, if you wander to the stacks for Psychology you might be able to pick up a copy of Science Daily, which will cover an article in the August issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

It is a very interesting article having to do with the fact that “there simply isn’t strong evidence for the general claim that living with a pet makes for a happier, healthier or longer life.” This is according to Professor of Psychology at the Western Carolina University, Harold Herzog. This is due, he says, to the lack of “rigorous research…that studies on pet ownership often suffer from methodological problems, such as small, homogeneous samples, lack of appropriate control groups, and reliance on self-report to measure participants’ health and well-being. Furthermore, very few studies have used the kind of experimental design necessary to show that pets actually cause improvements in their owner’s health and happiness.”

If I were asked, based on my clientele, I’d have to say dogs do NOT relieve stress in humans, they actually can create it. Dogs and their problems add to human problems. Dogs, on a transitory basis, especially for those who are not their owners, may relieve stress for a very short time. But then, so does a trip to Bora Bora.

Libraries also allow you check out things. Take for instance, “Lassie”, “Stormy”, “White Fang”, and, of course, “Cujo”.

Some things you must get directly from the circulation desk. Case in point, the Yale Law Library.

Within the ivied walls of this hallowed institution lies a hotbed of stress for the highly-charged, highly-competitive world of the law student. The Law Library, back in early April, began a test-run of a new lending program. It’s name? Monty.

Monty is a dog. He can be checked out for 30 minutes sessions if you’re a “stressed-out student”. The Library is not disclosing his breed, but the librarian, Blair Kauffman, stated in an email, “It is well documented that visits from therapy dogs have resulted in increased happiness, calmness and overall emotional well-being…” And, “according to the memo to students, is hypoallergenic”

Now I don’t mean to take umbrage at a venerable educational institution, nor at a librarian of the same. However, in July, Science Daily published an article, “Hypoallergenic Dogs Don’t Have Lower Household Allergen Levels Than Other Dogs, Study Finds”, stating that, “We found no scientific basis to the claim hypoallergenic dogs have less allergen,” says Christine Cole Johnson, Ph.D., MPH, chair of Henry Ford’s Department of Public Health Sciences and senior author of the study.”

According to the Yale/Monty article, “A handful of other universities offer similar services, including the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh.”

I think we should all return to the Psychology stacks and see what stressed-out humans do to the psychology and health of dogs. It can’t be good for a dog to sit amongst the highly-stressed all the time. Look what it does to US!

Personally? I can’t wait to see what happens when I ask my local library’s circulation desk for “wolverines”.

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