A ‘pawsitive’ experience at Camosun College with visit of therapy dogs

WatchIt's an innovative and proven way to bring "pawsitive" vibes to students during some of their difficult times. The annual visit of therapy dogs to Camosun College helps reduce the stress and anxiety of campus life. As Mary Griffin reports, these dogs are very good at what they do.

Chewie is a working therapy dog who was a very, very good boy when he stopped in at Camosun College to help some students on Thursday.

His owner, Devan O’Meara, said Chewie’s personality lends itself to his success.

“He was born to do this. He really was. He’s a passionate little guy,” O’Meara said.

Camosun College students are days away from final exams. And the stress and anxiety of campus life can be overwhelming. But as soon as the therapy dogs arrived, smiles broke out, and students  relaxed immediately.

“I feel happy. Relaxed. A little bit full of hair, but happy,” accounting student Aydan Claus said.

Even though student Taelor Dahlberg has a dog at home, she didn’t want to miss the visit.

“Everyone gets a little stressed out at this time of the semester.  It’s getting close to finals, getting close to the end. it’s nice to have them. I’ve got a dog at home but I come in anyway because I love them,” Dahlberg said.

A recent study from the University of British Columbia reveals that students spending time with therapy dogs reduces stress and improves their overall well-being. Vice-President of Student Experience at Camosun College Heather Cummings said they know it’s a stress reliever for students.

“At Camosun College, our students are like everywhere else. We are seeing higher instances of mental health concerns. And we are doing our best to find different strategies to help lower our students’ stress and help them be successful and get to the end of the semester,” Cummings said.

Tisha’s owner, Devan O’Meara, describes her dog’s attributes.  “She just loves to be pet. And loves to sit. And loves love.  Ha, ha. Yes, right?” O’Meara said.

Tisha’s a five-year-old St. Bernard Newfoundlander mix, and a rescue. But once her bandana and collar go on, she knows she’s on the job. And she attracts students, including Zack Bourque, like flies.

“It’s amazing. It’s such a stress reliever. Really.  With exams coming up and everything it’s just a good feeling,” Bourque said.

“One of the things I noticed is as soon as the dogs showed up, the students were smiling. They were excited. Taking pictures. You could see the level of happiness increase exponentially the moment these dogs came into the room,” Cummings said.

St. John’s Ambulance organizes these get-togethers once a semester on campus,  a pawsitive experience all around.

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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