The MIT Puppy Lab is a bit warmer and fuzzier than most labs on campus, but it is no less innovative. As a dog owner and graduate student in the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology, Stephanie Ku ’14 feels that time spent in friendly canine company can lead to spontaneous smiles, stress-relieving laughter, and, for many people, feelings of calm and reduced anxiety.
This past fall, Ku formalized her hypothesis, that animal interaction could help de-stress MIT students, faculty, and staff, in a proposal to the MindHandHeart Innovation Fund, which included establishing a regular campus space for puppy petting and a plan for project-evaluation via correspondence with participants. After receiving the grant, Ku wasted no time in starting up, arranging on-campus sessions for dog-owning members of the MIT community to obtain training and certification through Dog B.O.N.E.S Therapy Dogs. “When I put out the call for training sessions, I was overwhelmed by the response,” says Ku, who has compiled a growing wait list for owners not able to talk the first series. “So many owners are excited to share their furry best friends with others, and students cannot wait to meet them. I hope that this therapy dog model will catalyze the development of meaningful relationships between humans and canines alike.” With an initial round of prospective team training now complete, Ku has announced visit sessions for the Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons (3-5 p.m.) of May 10, 11, 17, and 18. You can meet the dogs virtually at the Puppy Lab site.
And Puppy Lab isn’t the only opportunity to de-stress with therapy dogs this May. There is Furry First Friday, May 6, from 2 to 4 p.m., in the Hayden Library and a Cookies with Canines session Thursday, May 12, from 2:30 to 3 p.m. in Hayden, hosted by MIT Libraries; and a Yappy Hour on May 11 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., in the MIT Sloan Office of Student Life (Room E52-101). Read more.