By Chanelle Seguin
Dalhousie University students are getting their paws on some unconventional stress relief.
Gavin Jardine, vice president of student life at Dalhousie in Halifax, N.S., said a student suggested an idea for a puppy room, and the student union approved the initiative.
“We haven’t even printed a single poster yet, we just put one post on our Facebook group, and it seemed to just go viral from there,” Jardine told Humber News. “Overall the response has been very positive and overwhelming.”
The Puppy Room opens next week and students will have access to the room for a duration between two to five hours on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Jardine said the event is not costing the student union a dime.
Dogs are being volunteered by Therapeutic Paws of Canada, a nation wide non-profit organization that provides dogs to many different groups.
Don LeBlanc, director for Therapeutic Paws of Canada, said he needed approval for the Dalhousie visit because it was a special initiative.
“We proceeded through the approval process, and now it has blown up to a big event,” said LeBlanc.
LeBlanc noted that there are some concerns with the event.
“There is some concern whether there are enough dogs there to meet the demand but this is just an experimental stage,” said LeBlanc. “I suppose that once the event is finished, the student union will gather feedback from students, and then there might be an expansion to next April depending on the response.”
Adriana Renton, a second-year Kinesiology student at the University of Guelph-Humber, said her exam schedule is very stressful but she has created time to relieve herself of work.
“I have a pretty heavy exam schedule. It’s very back to back to back,” said Renton. “So I made a point of making a schedule to give time for me to go to the gym or a yoga class because you can’t go hard that many days in a row. It’s crazy.
There is evidence that animals can help relax and improve performance.
This past September, four students from Hiroshima University in Japan published a study that had 132 students divided into groups and asked to complete number-based tasks and the game Operation. The students did these tasks before and after being shown cute animal photos like dogs and kittens.
After seeing the images of the cute animals, those playing Operation improved their scores by 44 per cent and those completing the number-based tasks enhanced their accuracy by 16 per cent.
“The use of animals is really, really expanding,” said LeBlanc. “In the case of the students, a lot of them have left home, left their pets behind. So I can see that they would really be missing them, and I can see how this event will help these students through a stressful time.”