Therapy Thursday is well known to be one of the best days on campus, where students can destress by hanging out in Old Main with the St. John’s Ambulance dogs.
On March 15, the Wellness Centre celebrated the fifth anniversary of the therapy dog program on campus. Chelsea Corsi, TRU’s wellness coordinator, said the idea for the program came from looking at other schools and from suggestions by TRU employees.
“About six years ago I’d been hearing about other universities, like law schools for example, bringing puppies in during exam time. I thought that was an interesting idea and thought how we could make that work,” Corsi said.
They started the program off as a nine-week pilot project where they brought in the dogs every Thursday for a four-hour drop-in period.
“It was so successful that we couldn’t imagine not continuing on,” Corsi said. “What I know from working here so long, is that students are stressed throughout the entire semester. It doesn’t matter if it’s an exam time or midterms or just a transition to a new place.”
Hanging out with the dogs and stopping to pet them has proven to be a big source of stress relief for many students and is a way to take a quick break from an otherwise hectic semester. Bridget Jensen, the therapy dog coordinator for TRU, says that the dogs have an impact on everyone around them including the handlers, staff and faculty, but especially students.
“A lot of them have been away from home and come from far away and have pets at home that they miss. [The dogs] have also proven to be very calming for them if they’re having any anxiety or they’re upset or homesick,” Jensen said.
Rajat Csopra, a first-year student in the accounting program, says that he comes to visit the dogs every week.
“They make me feel good, with all these lectures and exams coming up, there is a lot of stress in the university. So, that’s why I come to see them,” Csopra said.
Corsi adds that the effects of having the dogs is not only seen by those who stop to pet them but also by others passing the area.
“What I like is that anyone who walks by can see the dogs and we’ve heard feedback from students within the last couple of weeks that even if they don’t stop and pet the dogs, just seeing them lifts their mood,” Corsi said.
You can visit with the dogs and their handlers from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Thursday in Old Main.