No need to chase your own tail when you can destress with dogs

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Photo by Aaron Waitson

As the semester progresses and students balance midterms, looming assignment deadlines and the fast approach of exams, school becomes more and more stressful.

Luckily, there are resources and events on campus that are designed to help students manage their stress and unwind, even if it’s just for a few minutes out of their day.

On Friday, Nov. 8, Laurier’s Career Centre hosted their “De-stress with Dogs” event to give people on campus the opportunity to relax with some four-legged friends and momentarily forget about their lists of to-do’s and deadlines.

De-Stress with Dogs was made accessible to students during the Career Centre’s drop-in hours, so the option to have resume critiques done by their student career centre peers was available as well.

Frances Humphreys, associate director of career development and external relations at the Career Centre, understands the importance of engaging students in ways that best support their mental health and wellbeing, and she sees where students often struggle the most.

“We’re always wanting to connect with students and connect with students where they’re at as well. With all of our individual appointments, and the conversations that we have with students, often it’s just stress and sometimes, if it’s a first-year student, they’re [experiencing] homesickness,” Humphreys said.

Being in school, for many people, means being away from home and family, and part of that family often includes a pet.

It’s known that dogs will help de-stress as far as any anxiety, depression, loneliness … just an escape from the rigour of day-to-day university life. So we really look at bringing that welcoming atmosphere to the students.

– Frances Humphreys, associate director of career development and external relations at the Career Centre

“We think about how we can make them feel at home, how do we make the Career Centre a welcoming place and support the students? So, we thought ‘okay, De-Stress with Dogs.’ Often, students have pets at home that they miss — they can’t always have a pet while they’re at school or in residence, so how do we bring a little bit of home [here]?,” Humphreys said.

Animal therapy has become a common tool that is used to support people who may live with a variety of different disorders or experience stressful triggers in their day-to-day life.

“It’s known that dogs will help de-stress as far as any anxiety, depression, loneliness … just an escape from the rigour of day-to-day university life. So we really look at bringing that welcoming atmosphere to the students,” Humphreys said.

The added benefit of the event was that it further promoted the specific services that are available and accessible for those in need of career support.

“It’s also a way for them to engage with us at the Career Centre, to understand the resources that we have to support their career wellness, because often careers are stressful for students as well. We align the timing of De-Stress with Dogs to our drop-in hours,” Humphreys said.

Light refreshments were provided for anyone who dropped in, and four different dogs were stationed in the area with their owners who are volunteers with St. John’s Ambulance.

They were happy to answer the questions that were asked about their easy-going canines, and everyone seemed to enjoy the welcoming atmosphere.   

The event was clearly very popular, with dozens of students crowded around waiting for their chance to pet each dog and excitedly take photos of the ones they got a chance to meet and interact with.

“And as you can see, we had overwhelming success with 184, an all-time high, with the number of students coming to engage with us,” Humphreys said.

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