Anderson, a guide puppy in training, keeps a tight grip on his cow chew toy while playing with a law student. Wednesday, March 30, 2016.

The verdict’s in: Puppies are great.

Law students and guide dogs in-training were sprawled across the floor of the S.J. Quinney College of Law, playing and cuddling in an effort to help the dogs socialize and the law students relax.

First year law student Amanda Roosendaal plays with Tila, a guide puppy in training. Tila, as well as the other puppies in attendance are learning social skills, as part of their training to be guide dogs for the blind. Wednesday, March 30, 2016.
First year law student Amanda Roosendaal plays with Tila, a guide puppy in training. Tila, as well as the other puppies in attendance are learning social skills, as part of their training to be guide dogs for the blind. Wednesday, March 30, 2016.

Barbara Dickey, the school’s dean of students, is overseeing organization of the department’s “Wellness Week” to help students cope with pressure as finals approach.

“I don’t know if you’ve heard, but law school can be stressful,” Dickey said. “We try to do what we can to alleviate stress and get people centered and to remind them, yes, life is normal outside of law school.”

Activities include meditation, free yoga classes, mental health assessments and a party at the end of the week.

Karen Fuller, academic coordinator at the school, brought in several volunteers to share the dogs they’re training.

“It’s a good experience, not only for the puppies because they need to learn to be around people and be calmer, but it’s also good for the law students — they love having dogs here,” Fuller said.

Rembrandt, Miles, King and a few other labs and retrievers happily allowed students to pet and cuddle them. Each dog sported a green harness that said “guide dog puppy” and was carefully monitored by a trainer.

Volunteers get the puppies when they are eight or 10 weeks old and train them until they are 15 months. Dogs must have good physical health and the ability to be unafraid of things that could harm their owner.

Not all dogs make it through training, but those who don’t can still be put to good use. Pam Myers, a former guide, brought in a few dogs that flunked out of training school. Kite, a golden retriever, failed because he was scared of loud noises. Lana, also a retriever, had a problem with her legs, but is now a therapy dog for Myer’s son, who is autistic.

“She takes him and makes sure he gets on the bus, and if he has a meltdown or problems she’ll just lie next to him and help him,” Myers said.

Amy Pauli, a sophomore in law, said she feels like she’s always inside the law building, so playing with the dogs is a big relief. Pauli has a three-year-old yellow lab at home but said seeing the animals at school is an extra bonus.

“Law students in particular have been noted to suffer from mental health issues,” Pauli said. “It’s a good distraction for people, and they’re so sweet.”

m.bateman@dailyutahchronicle.com

@mbatman72

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