A pet-loving resident advisor gets students to unwind thanks to some puppy love

Some resident advisors grab pizza for their students come final exams time. At Tufts University in Boston, one particularly caring R.A. provides his charges with something cuddlier – visits from puppies.

Resident director Michael Bliss has started a mini-trend on his urban campus this fall: providing stressed-out, finals-cramming students with a chance to visit some therapy dogs.

Bliss, who attended New York University as an undergrad and took part in a similar program there, tells PEOPLEPets.com that this was one of the first activities he wanted to implement for overworked co-eds. “Students really love the chance to get away from their books and get rid of some stress for an hour,” he says. “Many of them are freshman who haven’t seen their homes or dogs for a few months. It brings them back to the feeling of home and comfort.”

In October, Bliss staged a two-day event in the lounge of his dormitory with eight therapy pups from the local organization Dog B.O.N.E.S., as well as an outside stress-relief group. More than 400 students turned up to pet and play with the pups during the two-hour events. “The response was overwhelming,” he says. “It has obviously worked.”

Since his puppy play days in October, several other campus dorms have staged similar events and seen the same big response.

For those who think dogs may prove to be a distraction at final exam time, the Boston College graduate student says not to worry. “Students studying continuously for days at a time need a break,” he explains. “They have a two-week finals period in which they might get one or two breaks like this. If anything, it’s not enough.”

So will the dogs return in spring? If it’s up to Bliss, the answer is yes. “We hope to make it bigger and better,” he says.