Pet Therapy goes to University!

On Thursday April 24th I was asked to participate in something completely different. Stephen Garry, the Student Welfare Officer in Trinity College had asked Peata to organise a session in the university to de-stress the students before their end of term exams. This was something that had been previously tried in American and Canadian universities, and had proven to be very popular and helpful to students there. The Trinity Student Union and The Student Welfare Officer went about organising a similar event.

I had no idea what to expect, but Joy, my flatcoated retriever and I set off on the bus and arrived at Trinity at 12 noon. I had wondered if anyone would turn up, but I needn’t have worried, because when I got to Front Square there was already a large queue forming outside House 6 where the students were to meet the dogs. Altogether there were about 15 Peata dogs, ranging in size from Joe Treacy’s three very large Leonburgers down to Joan Courtney’s papillon, with dogs of all shapes and sizes in between.

The students who organised the event were terrific. There were student representatives all around the campus to direct participants to the venue, with more representatives from the Student’s Union on hand to organise the huge crowd. They were very attentive to the needs of the dogs, their owners and the students, who were let in in small groups with each group allotted a 10 minute session. The dogs really enjoyed all the attention. Some students were immediately very comfortable with the pets, while others took a little time to connect, but all were welcomed enthusiastically by the canine participants. It was interesting to see which students were attracted to which dogs. While the huge gentle leonburgers attracted a lot of attention, many were happy to get down on the floor to pet and be slobbered over by the slightly smaller dogs, while others preferred to spend time with the dogs who were sitting quietly with their owners, with James Wade’s Japanese Spitz receiving particular attention.

It was a very worthwhile and enjoyable afternoon, and the feedback from the students was extremely positive. Whether it will have helped them in their exam preparation remains to be seen – we certainly hope so! Joy was exhausted by the end, and slept the whole way home on the bus. I hope that the Welfare Officer will have considered it an event worth repeating in the future. The students were asked to make a voluntary donation, and the money  collected made a very welcome contribution towards the running costs of Peata.

All Peata members, canine and human, wish the students well in their exams and a stress-free future!