Canine cohort helps UBC students deal with stress

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Sydney the border collie is a member of Pets and Friends. On Wednesday, he paid a visit to UBC to help students deal with exam anxiety.

Petting dogs is an unconventional method UBC students are using to deal with exam-related stress, and it may be catching on with schools across Vancouver.

Wednesday, the non-profit organization, Pets and Friends, visited to UBC as part of their “Stress Less for Exam Success” day, bringing a horde of canines along with them to visit with stressed students.

Organization hopes to expand to other schools

Daphne Parker, the assistant administrative coordinator for Pets and Friends, said she is excited about the possibility of bringing the program to other schools.

“We were very excited when we were approached by UBC,” said Parker, adding that her favorite thing about her job is seeing people’s faces light up when they see the dogs. “It’s a very feel-good concept,” she said.

Many of the volunteers at Pets and Friends, who regularly bring their pets to elderly care facilities, hospitals and hospices as well, said they have seen the magic that visits with animals can bring to people’s lives.

“When [my dog Rigby] is doing a shift at hospice he beelines for the wheelchairs first,” said Beth Ledrew, a volunteer who mostly brings her dog to hospital visits due to the dog’s calm nature. “It’s almost like it’s instinct.”

Another volunteer, Cheryl McCutchen, said she likes Pets and Friends because it’s a way to bring her Pomeranian, Michi, to work with her.

“I [also] work at an extended care facility,” said McCutchen, adding that Michi is very sensitive to people’s emotions. “We had one resident who was dying and after visiting with him, [Michi] went back to my office and just needed to be alone and suck on his toy for a bit.”

Introducing animals a first for UBC

Patty Hambler, the student development officer of the Wellness Department of UBC, says bringing a program like Pets and Friends in to help relieve student stress is a first for the university.

“A student here had the idea to bring [the program] here,” said Hambler. “This is the first time we’ve had pets on campus.”

Reported by Cara McKenna

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