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Julie Lewis

A pack of "Fluffy Friends" helped SUNY Oneonta students unwind Tuesday before finals begin later this week. Lambda Pi Eta, a communication arts honor society, worked with the SUNY Oneonta Counseling Center to bring seven therapy dogs their trainers to campus to help relieve stress. The event was dubbed "Fluffy Friends for Finals."

"We got the idea from UCLA," senior co-organizer Sarah Thibodeau said. The group, working with the State University College at Oneonta Counseling Center, held the event in a roped-off area in the main quad from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The dogs their owners were all from the local area.

Finals are a stressful time for many students there also has been a lack of nice weather lately, Thibodeau, 21, of Fort Edward, said. Studies have shown therapy dogs reduce stress, she said. Students were asked to fill out short surveys when they were finished with the event; Thibodeau said about 600 surveys were completed. "

Overall, we had very positive feedback," Thibodeau said. "It brought a lot of smiles."

The dog owners volunteered their dogs their time. The Fly Creek Cider Mill, where one of the students works, donated food, including donuts, potato chips, candy cider.

"It was a great success," Thibodeau said. Thibodeau said many students remarked to the trainers that the dogs looked like pets they had left at home when they went off to college.

The dogs also seemed to have a good time, she said. "They are calm. They are used to being with a lot of people," Thibodeau said. "I think they do these sorts of things a lot."

Although Thibodeau many of the other student organizers are graduating, she said the group would likely try to do it again next year. The event generated a lot of buzz on campus, she said.

SUNY Oneonta students have a study day today. Finals start Thursday run through next Wednesday. The college's 121st commencement ceremony is May 22.

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