"Who doesn't like dogs?" said Bryant Christie, a 22-year-old senior. "They're friendly, engaging, and you feel more calm and relaxed when they're around."
About 250 students visited the dogs Monday, and about 450 stopped by Tuesday.
A growing number of colleges are adopting the practice as word of mouth spreads, said Ursula Kempe, president of the Flanders, N.J.,-based TDI, which regulates, tests, and registers therapy dogs and their volunteer handlers.
Moore College of Art and Design held a similar event Saturday with Comfort Caring Canines, a local group that also has visited Villanova Law School. St. Joseph's University hosted its first relax-with-dogs day in December, and another is scheduled for Thursday.
Joy Dlugosz, public services librarian at the Eastern library, said she learned of the practice when she read about the St. Joseph's event. She decided to bring it to the 4,000-student campus.
"I know how soothing dogs can be," said Dlugosz, the "mom" of Cleo, a rat terrier, and Phoebe, a toy fox terrier.
The weeks leading up to finals can be tense for students and faculty, Dlugosz said. Students must perform, and professors are pressured to "provide the best education," she said. Graduating seniors have the added worry of preparing for their big day.
At St. Joe's, organizers set up the therapy dog team in the atrium of the Post Learning Commons of Drexel Library. About 500 students lined up to pet the dogs. When some finished with one dog, they went to the back of a line to do it again, said Carolyn Zaccagni, a learning specialist at the university.
The school distributed survey cards for students to assess their stress before and after spending time with the dogs.
"When I crunched the numbers, there was a 50 percent reduction in the level of stress," Zaccagni said.
Research studies have shown that petting dogs can help reduce blood pressure and anxiety levels.
At Eastern, the library serves as a hangout on a campus that has no student center. So Dlugosz figured it was the perfect place for the dogs, who were stationed inside and outside.
Near the lawn, Darla, a three-year-old Bernese mountain dog, was surrounded by students, and Remy, a Labradooodle, scooted for a Frisbee whenever a student tossed it.
"I wouldn't mind having dogs at the library all day," said senior Eric Giovagnoli, 20, who said he misses his two dogs at home in Royersford. "As soon as the puppies came in, I stopped [working]. I'm distracted with all these cute puppies around."
But he called it a good distraction.
Nearby, Amanda Fox, a 20-year-old sophomore with six finals coming up, sat next to Georgia, an eight-year-old Gordon setter who lost part of her jaw to cancer at age 2.
Fox rubbed Georgia's fluffy coat, even though she probably should not have. Fox is allergic to dogs, but took time to sit with each one.
"I'll just grab my inhaler and take a couple of pills," Fox said. "It's worth the love."
Contact Kristin E. Holmes at 610-313-8211 or email@example.com.