Kitchener-Waterloo

University of Guelph students to 'paws' for canine stress therapy

Library staff at the University of Guelph have partnered with the Ontario Veterinary College to host Take a Paws, an exam stress-busting session that will allow students to pet, cuddle and interact with therapy dogs.

Exam stress-busting session will let students interact with dogs for 15 minutes

University of Guelph associate librarian Peggy Pritchard will bring her dog, Taksim, to the school this week for exam stress-busting sessions where students will get to interact with dogs. (YouTube)

The University of Guelph is calling in some four-legged helpers to assist students combat the stress that comes with exam time.

Associate librarian Peggy Pritchard is leading sessions called Take a Paws where students will have up to 15 minutes to play with pooches.

"We've been running the exam stress-buster series since about 2011. We really wanted to introduce dogs to provide comfort for students because there is scientific evidence to suggest that animals, stroking animals, cuddling animals really helps in many ways – decreasing blood pressure, decreasing cortisol levels … and also just creating a sense of well-being," Pritchard said in a YouTube video posted by the Ontario Veterinary College, which is at the University of Guelph.

Dog-owner teams are certified

Pritchard takes her dog Taksim, a two-year-old Lowchen, to visit patients at Guelph's Hospice Wellington. She will be among the dog-owner teams who are taking part in the event. Other teams have received training and certification from the St. John's Ambulance therapy dog program.

This file photo shows a therapy dog from St. John Ambulance visiting with University of Saskatchewan students to help reduce their stress during final exams in 2014. (Kathy Fitzpatrick/CBC)

Heather Leong, an information technology analyst at OVC and volunteer coordinator with the St. John Ambulance therapy dog program in Cambridge, said "de-stress" visits like this event have taken off in the past three years.

"I know these programs have been very successful," she said in a release about the event.

The event, which will take place during the afternoon and evening on Tuesday and Wednesday, is co-sponsored by OVC and OVC Pet Trust. Students can sign up on the library's website.

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