Come chill with dogs on Laurier’s Waterloo campus
Every Wednesday, “Chilling with Dogs” is held at Martin Luther University College. The event allows students to de-stress by playing with dogs.
Kristine Lund, principal-dean at Martin Luther University College, started “Chilling with Dogs” because of an observation she made while supervising students in placement at Delton Glebe Counseling Centre.
“[Students] would anecdotally talk about being lonely and one area of their loneliness was really missing their pets at home,” Lund said.
During the spring final exam period in 2014, “Chilling with Dogs” events took place using Lund’s own dog, Annie.
“… students loved it, so then we just kept it on,” said Lund.
“Chilling with Dogs” now runs weekly from noon to 1 p.m. in the Keffer Memorial Chapel at Martin Luther College with several dogs in attendance.
“We have a few students that volunteer their dogs and a few faculty members that also volunteer – and then a few others that we just know,” Keirann Aitken, a masters student in spiritual care and psychotherapy, and a facilitator of “Chilling with Dogs”, said.
Students can expect to see four to six dogs each week as well as other participants and volunteers in attendance with seating and treats for the dogs provided.
“The students really like all of [the dogs] but especially the little dogs,” said Aitken.
“There is a real social element to “Chilling with Dogs” even for students who come by themselves, they will often talk with other students or talk with the dog owners,” said Lund.
Although the event runs for an hour, participants are able to drop-in or leave at any time.
“Some of our students come for the whole time, especially our regulars,” said Aitken. “The ones that drop in usually it’s in between class, so they’ll come in for fifteen or twenty minutes before they go on to their next class.”
A break from course work and the social component provided by “Chilling with Dogs” resonates with students.
“It gives me something to look forward to and then when I leave, I leave feeling a lot better,” Emma Greeley, a second year psychology student, said.
“A dog serves as a social connector and I think that’s really helpful for students. They focus on the dog but they can talk with each other,” said Lund.
“Chilling with Dogs” will be available for students during the fall exam period.
“… I expect [the crowd] will increase as the term goes on,” said Lund. “Definitely during exams, there is usually a good crowd.”
As for expanding the initiative, Aitken said, “in the past, we’ve done events at the library and we also worked with Relay for Life. Since COVID, we haven’t done anything like that and it would be nice to get back into that kind of thing.”
Visit Martin Luther University College on Instagram for more information on attending “Chilling with Dogs,” where students are always welcome.