Over 100 students converged on the Mamidosewin Centre Oct.13 for a chance to greet Teddy and Bizzy Lizzy, volunteer therapy dogs.
Specially trained and selected, these dogs and their owners dedicate their time to help alleviate individuals’ stress.
As part of an ongoing series, students were invited to take a break from the stress of mid terms and bond with some four-legged friends at Paws 4 Stress.
During the event, small groups of participants were welcomed to sit, pet and interact with the animals for a few minutes. Although the time is short the encounter has a lasting effect.
A growing belief among researchers claims the healing nature that bonds with animals can have on people are well known and documented. From reduced blood pressure to improved mood, their effect on us is unquestionable.
With this being one of the highest times of stress for students across Ottawa, the program is well timed.
“Everyone is really enjoying it,” said Suzanne Gougeon, volunteer with St. John Ambulance and owner of Teddy.”Especially the dog is also enjoying it.”
Even with five or six people crowding in for a bit of attention, the animals were receptive and brought smiles to all faces.
“He’s a big baby,” said Gougeon.”He enjoys the attention.”
Being a two-year-old Great Pyranees at roughly 100 lbs., he’s definitely a BIG baby but the students flocked to him in droves.
While this was Teddy’s first assignment, Lizzy, the four year old Terrier, is a long time veteran to helping those suffering from anxiety.
“Her permanent position is at River Park retirement home.” said owner Bernadette Patton, St. John Ambulance volunteer.”She’s been doing that for over two years.”
“It’s the first dog I’ve ever had that I’ve actually had that much time to work with her, said Patton.”With obedience and all that stuff.”
With the program being city-wide, the value to students cannot be overstated. Anxious faces standing in line immediately turned to smiles as the students filed in one by one for their short reprieve.
The Paws 4 Stress program was initiated by the AC Hub, Human Resources and St. John Ambulance.
“People really respond to the animals so it’s really nice,” said Susan Pridmore, events and volunteer assistant at the AC Hub.”You can’t go wrong with cute animals.”