For a couple of hours on a recent Friday, students, faculty, and staff at the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library, gathered around a three–year–old mutt named Finn, waiting for a chance to pet him and for him to lick their faces. Finn is the School of Medicine’s therapy dog, there to help people ease their stress and anxiety. As a poster announcing Finn’s debut put it, “Need a furry friend to help you unwind and relax?”
“He has a way with people,” said his owner, Krista Knudson, a nurse–practitioner who’s pursuing a Ph.D. at the School of Nursing. Knudson adopted Finn, a mixed breed with some terrier and poodle, from a rescue operation in Tennessee shortly after he was born.
R. Kenny Marone, the library director, said Knudson approached her after learning about a similar program at Yale Law School. “I was looking for a way to be involved with my community,” Knudson said.
Marone and other library administrators “interviewed” Finn in her office. Finn made the rounds, interacting individually with each of those assembled.
“By the end of the session we were all ready to crown Finn an honorary member of the medical library,” Marone said. “He’s a great dog. He makes you want to pet him.”
After addressing liability issues with Yale’s legal office, the library received the green light to have Finn there on Friday mornings. He’ll be in a conference room off the main library entrance and library staff have volunteered to bake cookies and cupcakes.
“I think it’s a great idea to have different strategies for helping people deal with anxiety,” said Mei Tan, a research assistant at the Child Study Center who came to pet Finn. “For 10 minutes you’re totally relaxed.”
“It would have been so nice to have a therapy dog here during the Step I study period,” said Alex Svoronos, a student in the M.D./Ph.D. program.
Finn will be available for petting every Friday throughout this semester from 10 a.m. to noon.