For years the St. John Ambulance therapy dogs were a common sight at Camosun College’s Interurban Campus, but when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the dog visits had to be called off.
“We had the St. John Ambulance coming to the libraries at this time of year since I think it was five, six, seven years, I don’t know exactly, and like everything we had to pause,” says Camosun’s director of learning services Sybil Harrison.
Now with pandemic restrictions easing the dogs are returning and giving students a much needed break ahead of the end of the semester.
“People’s happiness goes up, stress levels decline, acknowledged it’s for a short period of time, but it’s a time of year when students really need it,” says Harrison.
“I have dogs at home so it’s nice to be here and get to pet some dogs in the middle of the day,” says student Sabrina Wu.
The return to campus is also a bright spot for the owners of the four legged therapists.
“For five years we’ve been doing events at Camosun and of course for the last two years we haven’t done anything,” says Julie Newsom, the owner of a therapy dog named Jessie.
“So it’s really really exciting to be back.”
For the pooches involved, the program is even beneficial to their everyday lives.
“Even when she’s not wearing her bandana and we’re just out on the street she will make a point of going towards anyone she thinks needs a little therapy,” says Newsom.
The dogs will also make an appearance at Camosun’s Landsdowne Campus on Apr. 4.