Puppies help stressed-out law students

Dec. 2, 2011 at 5:33 PM
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BRADDOCK, Va., Dec. 2 (UPI) -- A Virginia law school is attempting to lessen exam stress for its students by holding its second annual "Puppy Day."

Fifteen homeless and adoptable puppies arrived on the campus of George Mason University School of Law Thursday to break the crushing pressure that blankets the campus at exam time, The Washington Post reported.

"Especially this time of the year, law school seems to ruin your life," said Allison Tisdale, 24, a third-year student from Texas who stayed on campus for Thanksgiving to study for upcoming exams.

Holding a squirming puppy, she said, "You get to be human again."

Many law schools, responding to studies finding the legal profession has higher-than-average rates of depression and problems with substance abuse, now teach students how to balance the stress of school with healthy habits like running marathons, volunteering or hanging out with a pet.

"If people don't learn how to balance their lives in law school, and then, if they go to a big firm, chances are they won't balance their lives there, either," James E. Leffler of Lawyers Helping Lawyers, a Virginia non-profit that helps with substance abuse and mental-health issues, said.

Dogs and other animals can provide a soothing presence for stressed-out law students, researchers said, as they've learned from others in stressful environments including soldiers in war zones and patients in rehabilitation centers.

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