Pet Partners: Making finals warm and fuzzy

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

In 2008, library staff began volunteering to bake homemade goodies to hand out to students studying for their final exams. A few years later, a staff member contacted Pet Partners of Southern Arizona after the all-volunteer group brought their adorable, well-trained therapy dogs inside the UA law library for the students. She then did some research to see what other peer university libraries did to support students around finals.

“I was amazed at how popular therapy dogs were,” says Michelle Monroe-Menjugas, a library operations supervisor and one of the planners behind the Finals Study Break events hosted at the libraries. “It kind of snowballed from there.”

The rest, as they say, is history. The library’s involvement went from hosting one event to six events. Inviting Pet Partners to visit students on campus during finals is now a library tradition.

Pet Partners of Southern Arizona’s mission is to improve human health and well-being through the human-animal bond. Students who are cramming for exams and writing papers get to take a few minutes to relax, pick up snacks or coffee, and visit with the dogs. For some, it’s a sweet reminder of the pets they left behind when they came to the UA. In fact, many of the students like talking to the owners about their pets. “Everyone lights up as soon as they see the dogs,” said Katie Armstrong, a senior library information associate who also serves as a member of the library’s Finals Study Break planning team. “They instantly have a big smile on their face.”

Another member of the Finals Study Break planning team, Patricia Ballesteros, is a senior library information associate who has worked for the library for 21 years. She says that the therapy dog visits are the students’ favorite part of Finals Study Break. “The first thing we hear when we announce the events happening at the library is, ‘When will the dogs be here?’”

In 2013, attendance at the annual Finals Study Break at the library was 562. Every year since then, more students have been attending the end-of-the-semester events each year. For the last six years, Pet Partners has donated their time and energy to support students during finals. In spring 2018, attendance for the Finals Study Break reached 6,343.

“Pet Partners of Southern Arizona are so generous and a huge asset to our community,” said Michelle. “They’re bringing smiles and stress relief to students when they need it the most.”

Thank you, Pet Partners, from your friends at the UA Libraries!

Finals Study Break Schedule

Finals Study Break Kick-off, Main Library (out front)
Dec 5, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Therapy dogs, giveaways

Dogs & Doughnuts, Main Library
Dec 6, 5-8 p.m.

Therapy dogs, snacks, board games, aromatherapy garden, UA Think Tank, tutoring by The Writing Center
Mindfulness workshop at Main Library, A314, 6-7 p.m.

Coffee Break, Fine Arts Library
Dec 7, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Therapy dogs, coffee, snacks

Game Night, Main Library
Dec 7, 3-5 p.m.

Therapy dogs, snacks, board games, aromatherapy garden, UA Think Tank

Finals Study Break, Main Library & Weaver Science-Engineering Library
Dec 9, 3-5 p.m.

Therapy dogs, a smorgasbord of snacks, tutoring provided by The Writing Center

Coffee Break, Health Sciences Library
Dec 10, 12-2 p.m.

Therapy dogs, coffee, snacks, UA Think Tank