~l_Paws2 - Blacksmith

16 month-old Benjamin McCormack grabs Burley, the six-year-old Labrador retriever, by the ears and giggles as the dog licks him on the face.

“Kiss the doggie,” said Mikaela McCormack, Benjamin’s mother.

McCormack is a first-year police foundations student at Algonquin. McCormack attended the event with baby Benjamin.

“Benjamin loves animals,” said McCormack. “I came out today so Benjamin could hug and kiss the doggies.”

On Feb. 23, students and staff gathered in the AC Hub, located in room E217 in the Student Commons, to hug, snuggle and play with animals.

This monthly event, called Paws 4 Stress, was hosted by the Algonquin College Students Association as a part of Mental Health Awareness Week.

Some students had just come off of reading week, some just came from midterms. Regardless, it was refreshing for students and staff to take time out of their busy day to brighten their moods.

“There’s a powerful connection between humans and animals,” said AC Hub worker Dan Cuddy.

“This is an opportunity for students to relieve stress,” said Cuddy. “People miss their pets back home so they can come out to spend some time with a furry friend.”

Mary Sean Burgham, Burley’s owner, wore a fanny pack full of treats, giving out snacks to people to feed to Burley.

Victoria Cooper, a first-year general arts & science studen, was one of many who came to play with Burley that day.

“I came to hang out with this little guy,” said Cooper as she rubs Burley on the stomach. “He’s really playful.”

Lynn Kitchen and her five-year-old rough collie, Avalon, who she kept saying was “like Lassie,” also attended the event.

Kitchen got Avalon to do tricks for treats while students watched and laughed.

“I love animals,” said second-year dental hygiene student Deanna Wight. “I miss my dog back home.”