Wagging tails and smiling faces return to the Laurier Brantford campus as the beloved therapy dogs program is expected to make a come back, after a semester-long break, this March.
The therapy dog program that has been a part of the Brantford Wilfrid Laurier university mental health initiatives since 2012, was put on hold last semester due to a recent policy change and a slight misunderstanding.
“We are happy to say that we proudly support therapy dogs and are excited to announce that we’re running an event in March.”,” says Jodie Lockey-Duesling, a wellness education coordinator at Laurier, in a recent email.
With new information surfacing, the program is expected to come back in full swing. Students and faculty alike across the Brantford campus are overjoyed at the thought of their favourite furry form of stress relief coming back to the grounds this spring.
Therapy dogs have had a large impact on the mental well-being of many people over the years. Studies have shown that the use of these animals can greatly reduce the amount of stress and anxiety experienced by students.
“We’ve been to the campus a few times over the years,” says Bruce Wilson, a new leader of the Brantford Therapeutic Paws of Canada team (TPOC) and proud owner of his therapy dog Parker.
“His job is to go into places and give people a break from whatever their regular routine is, and bring some smiles….we’ve always had a good reaction from the students,” says Wilson.
With the semester wrapping up, it’s no surprise that many of the students on campus are experiencing feelings of anxiety and stress by the thought of their upcoming exams and other final projects.
“I think it’s a great program for students, programs like this really do help us de-stress and relax especially around exam time,” says Nataly Manychanh, second-year student in the digital media and journalism program, “plus, I can’t wait to see all of the furry little animals.”
Therapy dogs offer many positive impacts on their patients, both physically and emotionally. Therapy animals, like Parker, have the ability to help lower stress levels and bring a sense of calmness to their visitors.
Their presence alone can assist in lowering blood pressure and releasing endorphins. It has been documented that the simple act of petting a therapy animal produces a relaxation response within the human body.
“The impact they have on patients is huge, aside from the physical, the emotional uplift and smile they give is priceless, they break up the patients’ day, they raise morale, ” says Mike Kroeber, therapy dog owner.
“Bailey does quite a few tricks like dancing on his hind legs or giving high-fives, I love teaching the kids how to do many of his tricks with the idea that people tell the kids what to do all the time and it gives the kids a sense of empowerment to be able to tell Bailey to do something and have him listen to them,” he says.
It is the wish of many therapy dog owners to bring smiles to the ones that need them most.