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Monty The Dog Hits The Stacks At Yale Law

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Monty The Dog Hits The Stacks At Yale Law

Strange News

Monty The Dog Hits The Stacks At Yale Law

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

As one might expect, Yale University Law School can be a pretty intense place, so the library there is doing something unusual to help students unwind.

Mark Herz of member station WSHU explains.

MARK HERZ: I'm in the main reading room of the Law Library at Yale Law School, and it's got this soaring huge vaulted ceiling with intricate stonework, stained glass windows and giant chandeliers hanging on chains. And I'm here with...

Mr. BLAIR KAUFFMAN (Law Librarian, Yale Law School): Blair Kauffman, the law librarian.

HERZ: And in addition to the million books that can be taken out, there's something else new here, right?

Mr. KAUFFMAN: Oh, yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. KAUFFMAN: You're talking about our therapy dog.

HERZ: Monty is a small Jack Russell-border terrier mix.

He lives at home with one of the librarians who got him certified as a therapy dog. That means he's amenable to being handled by lots of strangers and can mind his manners while doing so.

The man who pressed Monty into service at Yale is Julian Aiken, access librarian at the law school and...

Mr. JULIAN AIKEN (Librarian, Yale Law School): I'm also Mr. Monty's personal assistant.

HERZ: Aiken said the idea came to him one night at home.

Mr. AIKEN: Librarians should be allowed one potentially brilliant but spectacularly rummy idea every decade or so, and this was mine.

HERZ: Aiken says, so far, the law students are liking the idea. All of Monty's half-hour sessions over the three-day trial period were fully booked.

Seth Wayne is a third year law student who signed up for one of the sessions.

Mr. SETH WAYNE: You want more treats, don't you? Those are yours.

HERZ: And that's about it. You sit on a couch for half an hour in a back office with a small wiry-haired brown dog - pet him, give him a biscuit, maybe a drink of water.

Seth Wayne says Yale has a reputation as being pretty chill as far as law schools go. Still, there's plenty of opportunity for tension.

Wayne has two clinics where he helps public defenders in New Haven and works on death penalty cases. On top of that, he's got classes on property and labor law, and he teaches constitutional law to high schoolers.

Wayne says law students like hard data.

Mr. WAYNE: And I think there's hard data available that dogs lower your blood pressure and make you more relaxed, just being around them on a daily - yeah, that experience just has a tendency to calm you down.

HERZ: So it's working out for the students. Still, there was the question of how to catalog Monty.

Again, law librarian Blair Kauffman.

Mr. KAUFFMAN: When the idea for this therapy dog was tossed around, Susan Karpuk, who's our head of cataloging, said: I can catalog anything. I can catalog a dog.

HERZ: And she did. An official-looking entry in the law library catalog appeared for Monty with a Library of Congress classification number. That entry went viral all over the Internet before the trial program was even approved. Provoking all kinds of levity, they took it down.

Still, if Monty comes back on a permanent basis, you might be able to look him up - SF428.2 .M66 2011. He circulates for half-hour periods.

For NPR News, I'm Mark Herz in Connecticut.

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