Therapy Dogs Visit KPU for Stress Relief Week

Three pups came to boost students’ morale on Nov. 25

Bailey is one of the adorable trained professionals who help students relieve stress during finals season. (Nicole Gonzalez-Filos)

There were some wagging tails at KPU’s Surrey campus eager to help students on Nov. 25 during Stress Relief Week. Three fluffy canines expressed their love for students by licking and vying for their attention on the second floor of the Birch building.

From Nov. 25 to 29, the KSA organized much-needed activities for stressed-out students to enjoy — one of which was bringing some furry, friendly faces to campus.

The KSA invited three St. John Ambulance therapy dogs who put smiles on students’ faces as they pet and hugged the little fellas. The dogs, in return, enjoyed their company and were very well behaved.

Shannen Johnson-Barker, the event organizer, says the KSA holds events like these every semester so students can take a break from the stress of exams.

“You are receiving love back from the thing that you are giving love to, so it is just very comforting,” she says.

Besides hosting the pups, the KSA provided free snacks to students, and info pamphlets on mental health tips and support resources . They offered a mini yogurt bar, where students could grab their choice of delicious fruity toppings, as well as popcorn and hot drinks.

Sitting in the corner of the room was a giant teddy bear, which students used to hug their stresses away.

A study by the University of British Columbia examined whether time with a therapy dog can boost a student’s happiness. The study had 246 students participate in a drop-in therapy dog session where the students could pet, cuddle, and interact with seven to 12 dogs. Others did not get to see the therapy dogs at all, but all participants had to complete a questionnaire immediately before and after the session.

The study found that dogs significantly increased their happiness and energy levels and reduced their stress levels.

Johnson-Barker say that most students are working part-time or full time while taking a full course load.

“When I was a student, I had two jobs most of the time and was taking full-time classes,” she says. “You need the break.”

Gerry Redmond is a volunteer with the St. John Ambulance therapy dog program. She brought her pet dog Bailey to campus for students to meet.

Redmond says she likes to see that Bailey can bring other people joy. She got into the therapy dog program specifically to visit the sick, the lonely, and the elderly.

As stated on its website, St. John’s Ambulance therapy dog program brings pet companionship to both children and adults who are hospitalized as well as adults residing in long-term care facilities.

The St. John’s program also helps children who struggle with reading, adult and child victims of trauma and crime, and individuals in homeless shelters.

One student who attended the event, Arshdeep Kaur, came because she loves dogs but doesn’t have one of her own.

“I just feel some kind of connection with the dogs,” she says. “When we can’t express our feelings to anyone else, we can share them with the dogs.”