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Furry friends help students de-stress

Sarah Hyatt

SARAH HYATT/DAILY OBSERVER
St. John's Ambulance Therapy Dogs and handlers made a special visit to Algonquin College in Pembroke for exam week to help students de-stress a bit recently. Pictured here are, left to right: Joanne Jackson, dog-handler, pre-health student Shelby Brydges and Debbie Kilby, dog-handler. Front, left is Watson, and to the right is Macy.

SARAH HYATT/DAILY OBSERVER St. John's Ambulance Therapy Dogs and handlers made a special visit to Algonquin College in Pembroke for exam week to help students de-stress a bit recently. Pictured here are, left to right: Joanne Jackson, dog-handler, pre-health student Shelby Brydges and Debbie Kilby, dog-handler. Front, left is Watson, and to the right is Macy.

A few furry friends were spreading cheer at Pembroke’s Algonquin College’s Waterfront campus recently.

With the holidays fast approaching, for students, it means it’s time to tackle exams. And it’s often a stressful time for students, Jamie Bramburger, manager of community and student affairs for the college says.

So, for the second year in a row, Algonquin College invited a few special study buddies to offer students who are focusing on their final exams and maybe feeling a lot of pressure to do well on the tests the chance to de-stress for a few, Bramburger explained.

The St. John’s Ambulance Pet Therapy program, with popular pooches and handlers visit a number of places in the Upper Ottawa Valley.

Therapy dogs are most often associated with retirement homes, long-term care facilities and other health care settings, but in the midst of exams, a brief break with a friendly pup seems to really help students, two handlers at the campus Thursday agreed.

A number of handlers and pups visited the campus for a few hours each day during exam week from Dec. 8-11. The groups camped out near the cafeteria and main entrance, offering students the chance to have a sit-down with the animals and maybe enjoy a quick cuddle. The “study buddies” are always well received by the students, Bramburger added.

Students are able to find a sense of comfort with the therapy dogs, even if it’s for a brief moment, Debbie Kilby, one dog handler who brought along Macy, an American Bulldog Thursday said. A chocolate lab named Watson, accompanied by handler Joanne Jackson was also present on the campus Thursday. And the pups were certainly enjoying themselves too, the handlers agreed.

It was a first time for both the therapy dogs to visit the campus and also Watson’s first time visiting anywhere, Jackson said. Macy visits places like Riverview Heights regularly.

“This is good for the dogs too,” Kilby said. “They’re getting out, meeting people and meeting other dogs, they’re socializing. This is just something that makes everyone a little happier,” Kilby explained.

Sarah Hyatt is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist.

 


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