With final exams around the corner at many universities, college students are understandably stressed.

And so in an effort to help students relieve some tension, one Canadian university has come up with the ultimate solution: a room full of puppies.

That's right, Dalhousie University in Halifax will be opening a "Puppy Room" from Dec. 4 through Dec. 6 where students can go to kick back and enjoy some quality time with a plethora of pooches.

Mark Grant owns a St. Bernard named Roc which will be hanging out in the puppy room. He told the CBC that just being around dogs may help students take their mind off their work, if only for a few minutes.

"They can come in and sit down, they can pat the dogs, talk to the dogs," Grant said. "That's our hope – that the dogs will bring as much comfort to the individuals that we're going to meet as the individuals will bring to the dogs."

Dalhousie student Michael Kean heard about a dog therapy program from some students at McGill University in Montreal, and he loved the concept. The students get an instant stress reliever while the dogs get some serious love and affection. Kean called it a "a win-win on all fronts."

"It's a great idea," Kean said. "There's no downfall about therapy dogs. Students, we're stressed out, don't know what to do, and they're fluffy. It comes down to that."

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You can train a dog to fetch, sit and stay, so you can probably train a dog to hate the Dallas Cowboys, right?

As we see in a new YouTube video making its rounds, the answer to that question is a resounding "yes."

A Washington Redskins fan films her dog, Dexter, as he waits patiently for some duck jerky. It is Dexter's favorite treat.

But when Dexter hears that a certain piece of jerky is associated with the rival Cowboys, he won't have it. He sniffs it and looks away longingly. Even he has some standards.

Talk about solid training. Dexter would probably kill for some more duck jerky, but just hearing the word "Cowboys" is a turn-off.

This is rivalry at its finest.

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This video of a cute chihuahua's quest for some Thanksgiving leftovers went viral over the weekend, and it's not hard to see why.

YouTube user Devin Contreras published the clip below, showing his dog Sloopy trying to snag some turkey. As Sloopy positions himself beneath the kitchen counter, he looks like he's dancing the conga. Unfortunately for the poor pooch, the food is just out of reach.

But to make light out of what was surely a frustrating situation for his dog, Contreras turns on some Gloria Estefan, and the result is hilariously adorable.

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A breakthrough study on paralyzed dogs in England has many people hopeful that scientists can use their findings to assist disabled humans.

Researchers at Cambridge University in England recently studied the effects of a novel cell transplant procedure on 34 dogs with paralyzed hind legs. According to an ABC News story, the researchers at Cambridge collected olfactory "ensheathing" cells from the dogs' noses, cultured them in Petri dishes for 3-5 weeks and then injected them into the dogs' spines.

The olfactory ensheathing cells allow smell signals to travel directly to the brain by communicating between the central and peripheral nervous system. While the new cells didn't restore communication between the brain and the hind legs, they did restore mobility and coordination to the legs.

The results of the study were published in the neurology journal Brain.

Spinal cord researcher Naomi Kleitman, who was not involved in the study, told ABC News that the cells somehow helped the dogs improve their walking.

"For those dogs that had the cells, something about having those cells in their spinal cord made them walk better, a little better, but not as if they were never injured," said Kleitman, the vice president of research at the Craig H. Nielsen Foundation. "It's a phenomenon, and we need to learn more about how this can happen."



Scientists say it is still difficult to determine how much and in what ways the cells assisted the dogs in walking. Even more challenging, some researchers say, is finding a way to apply these results to humans with spinal cord injuries.

"This is not a cure for spinal cord injury in humans -- that could still be a long way off," Geoffrey Raisman, chair of Neural Regeneration at University College London, told the BBC. "But this is the most encouraging advance for some years and is a significant step on the road toward it."

If nothing else, owners of paralyzed dogs have a reason to be optimistic. May Hay, whose 10-year-old dachshund participated in the Cambridge study, said her once-paralyzed dog is like a new pet.

"Now, he whizzes around the house and garden and is able to keep up with the other dogs," Hay told the BBC. "It's wonderful."

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Sometimes we forget how much fun pools can be.

Thankfully, we have dogs to remind us.

This clip of a doberman riding a waterslide six times in roughly 60 seconds has gone viral, and you can see why. She looks like she's having the time of her life, and you can't help but smile.

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If dogs in pools are your thing, check out this video as well.

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Mike Tyson was intimidated.

Visiting Australia for the first time, the former world heavyweight champion was offered the opportunity to get cuddly with a koala.

The erstwhile Baddest Man On The Planet declined. Emphatically.

"Good animals go bad sometimes," Tyson said.

Realizing how ridiculous the scene must have been with his waving off the koala, Tyson quickly added: "This doesn't look well."

Tyson also provided a more scientific explanation for his fear.

"I'm sure they've got a lot of bacteria in those nasty claws," he said. "A friend of mine had a koala scratch him."

Tyson is on a multi-city speaking tour of Australia, including Brisbane where the koala encounter occurred.

Here's a look at it from a different angle:

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Dante Berry, a 2-year-old Australian boy, and his German Shepherd, Dasher, had disappeared before, but nothing like what happened one night last week.

Dante and Dasher had been playing in Dante's yard when Dante's mother, Bianca Chapman, noticed that the pair had gone missing.

Chapman called for help, and authorities set up a search party that grew to be more than 100 people strong. Rescuers followed foot and paw prints through some brush near Dante's home, and when they saw a discarded diaper, they knew they were on the right path.

More than 12 hours after Dante disappeared, authorities heard a loud cry come from the brush. They saw Dasher come running, and he led the rescuers to Dante. The boy and the dog had traveled roughly 2.5 miles from their home.

"You could just imagine what was going through his little mind -- lost (and) dark," Department of Sustainability and Environment tracker Will Hannah told the Herald-Sun. "Lucky he did have his dog to keep him warm overnight."

After a long night of thunderstorms, Dante was found dehydrated but with no serious injuries.

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Personal investment had always been a staple of Tony La Russa's baseball philosophy. But in 2011, in what was to be the last of his 33 years as a manager, consistently living up to his own expectations had become increasingly difficult.

Managing not only his team but the game itself had always come naturally for La Russa. Before 2011 he had been the mastermind behind two World Series championships and five league championship series appearances.

And yet, for three or four years, La Russa had found difficulty in concentrating the way he once did. It made him wonder if he could continue to set the standard for his players when he was struggling on a day-to-day basis to pour himself into the game he had devoted 50 years to.

La Russa asked himself how he, in good faith, could ask players to follow his leadership when, deep down, he was wrestling with just how much more he could give?

The more the questions arose, the deeper he delved deeper into himself.

"Where it starts is with personalizing yourself," La Russa told ThePostGame in a phone interview. "I can't ask players to do things I wouldn't do myself."

Maybe he needed a change.

Perhaps, after all the wins, all the championship seasons, his priorities needed to shift. After all, for La Russa -- the third all-time winningest manager in MLB history -- personal involvement has always gone well beyond baseball.

It has extended to the communities.

Those places became more than just the cities where he happened to work and more than just teams that he managed. For 33 years, Chicago, Oakland and St. Louis became engrained in who he was, making it seem only right that La Russa put a piece of himself into the baseball stops that became home.

Which brings us to the cat.

***

By 1990, his fifth season with the A's, La Russa had come to know every square inch of the Oakland Coliseum. He knew the spots where balls tended to carom off the wall or the spots in the infield where routine grounders turned into base hits thanks to a fortuitous bounce.

And he knew about the cats.

The felines congregated under the seats, feeding off scraps left by fans from the night before. Occasionally, they'd find their way onto the field during battling practice, testing their courage.

So on that night against the Yankees when a calico darted out of a hole in the wall near the New York bullpen, La Russa wasn't shocked. But what happened next helped to lead La Russa down a philanthropic and charitable path he hadn't necessarily seen coming.

The cat darted to centerfield, only to be spooked by outfielder Roberto Kelly. Sensing danger, the cat changed course, ran to the right field corner, turned right and past the Yankees dugout. From there, it dashed behind the plate before running out of gas near the A's dugout.

La Russa used his foot to divert the cat, which disappeared into the dugout and into a nearby bathroom. La Russa closed the door, prepared to move on with the game -- and his life as he knew it.

After the game, county animal control officials came to pick up the cat, a fact La Russa passed onto his wife, Elaine, who had seen the incident on television and phoned her husband to inquire about the cat's whereabouts.

Knowing that the Alameda County animal shelter was likely over-populated, Elaine passed on some disturbing news to La Russa.

"If the cat stays there," she said. "They're going to kill it."

The next day, La Russa phoned the shelter, informing animal control officials he intended to drive the 25 miles from his home in Contra Costa County and take the cat to a shelter there, where it could be saved and put up for adoption.

Now, 21 years later, La Russa's Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) has helped raise awareness around the nation, traveling to shelters to help provide a safe haven for a large number of pets that are brought into county facilities around the country on the daily basis.

"To go to most county shelters, there's an over-population problem that's staggering," La Russa says. "As soon as (shelters) reach their limit, they have to euthanize thousands and thousands of adoptable animals."

***

Since establishing ARF in 1991, La Russa devoted as much time as he could to raising awareness of animal rescue. But given the time constraints he faced during the seasons he managed the A's and Cardinals, he discovered he couldn't spend as much time working with his foundation as he liked.

But after guiding the Cardinals to a World Series championship in 2011, La Russa retired and spent the past season working to help build a $17 million, 38,000-square-foot facility in Walnut Creek, Calif.

The center includes a 23,000-square-foot animal rescue shelter, where animals are put up for adoption. But it also includes 15,000 square feet for classroom space and a learning center, where groups such as special-needs kids or senior citizens can visit and learn how much companionship pets can bring once they become part of someone's family.

This month, ARF reached the milestone of having its 25,000th animal adopted. Rumpelstiltskin, an 11-week-old kitten, was adopted after a local animal shelter surrendered it to ARF when the kitten was only a few weeks old.

Last year, ARF placed 1,974 pets in homes, a giant leap from the foundation's first year when it saw 157 animals adopted. But, according to ARF executive director Elena Bicker, the foundation's mission is a daily battle to save animals, rescuing them from shelters that euthanize 40,000 pets every year.

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For a dog, spending time in a kennel can be a life-altering experience. The isolation and lack of significant social contact can create high levels of stress, which in turn can produce social or behavioral anxiety.

So what can owners do to relieve the strain on their pooches?

A recent study done at Colorado State University and published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior found that classical music relaxes dogs and generally produces more restful behavior.

The researchers studied 117 dogs of various breeds from a single kennel. Of those 117 canines, 83 were boarders and 34 were rescued dachshunds. Over four months the researchers produced thousands of randomly-timed assessments, exposing the dogs to 45 minutes of three different genres of music -- heavy metal, classical and simplistic psychoacoustic. The researchers periodically analyzed levels of barking patterns, restfulness, body-shaking and activity.

The study's authors found that heavy metal music appeared to increase anxiety and unrest while classical music was linked to relaxed and restful behavior.

"[I]t is suggested that shelters play classical music as a cost-efficient, practical way to enhance the environment and, therefore, the welfare of shelter dogs," write the study's authors, Lori R. Kogan, Regina Schoenfeld-Tacher and Allen A. Simon. "Classical music can reduce dogs' stress levels and potentially increase the likelihood of adoption."

These findings are contrary to some contemporary thinking, which suggests that more simplistic music, like the kind found on Pet CDs, is better for relaxation.

For the entire study, see here.

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Attendance is up, behavior is better and learning is on the rise at Lake Road Elementary in Poplar Bluff, Mo.

And it's all because of a four-legged and furry addition to the classroom. Counselor Valerie Duncan recently suggested the school bring in a "therapy dog" after seeing how well the idea worked at a nearby school. And now, kids at Lake Road are raving about their own canine, a Black Labrador Retriever named Airial.

"She's such a great dog, I just love how smart and nice she is," Connie Taylor, a fourth grader, told KFVS 12. "She brightens everyone's day especially mine."

Airial has a varied job description. Some of her tasks are explicit, she listens attentively as kids read to her, while others are more difficult to define but equally as important; her presence is calming and she serves to lighten the mood.

Just knowing that they'll get to be around Airial has inspired kids not only to come to school, but to be on their best behavior.

"She gives unconditional love," Duncan said. "The kids know that. No matter your grades or background, she just loves you and accepts you."

Airial goes home with Duncan at the end of the day, and the students have labeled Duncan Airial's "mom."

KFVS12 News

The idea of having a dog work with children is not new, and dogs are becoming more common in hospital settings. But some schools are justifiably wary of introducing a dog into the classroom. If Lake Road is any indication, this heartwarming partnership could have a significant impact under the right circumstances.

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