Have you ever had a really crappy or stressful day and all you wanted to do was cuddle a puppy? Well puppy therapy is real and it's spectacular.
I have the pleasure of coordinating these events with the wonderful non-profit Pacific Assistance Dogs Society (PADS), and not just because I'm a dog lover. It's really heartwarming to see puppy therapy bring together all types of people who are looking for a break from their day and have them relax and bond over their common love of animals. As the marketing coordinator for SFU Health and Counselling Services, I have the power to create a puppy utopia at the university. It really is a dream job.
Animal therapy has been studied and proven to reduce stress levels, depression, anxiety, as well as increase endorphins and provide comfort. A partnership was developed with PADS and since then these environments of comfort come around each time exams are near. Exams and puppies go hand in hand now at the university. Most of the dogs are between two to eighteen months old, and are in their first phase of training to become assistance dogs to those with physical disabilities. It's incredibly important for these dogs to be socialized with as many different types of people and environments as possible, so both sides benefit greatly from this initiative.
These puppy therapy events have become safe spaces for students to open up, talk about their mental wellness, and be nurtured by these pups who have absolutely no judgement and love giving and receiving affection from everyone. It's incredible to see students put their guard down and open up to one another. The dogs help wash away their stress and have them practice just being in the moment. You'll also see me sneaking in a cuddle or two (or ten) at these events. Everyone can benefit from puppy love!
If you're a part of the SFU community, feel free to come by to the next few events! More details here.
If you would like to make a donation to PADS so they can continue doing the wonderful work they do, you can do so here.
As for everyone else, here's a super cute video of our first event from student newspaper, The Peak that will hopefully add some brightness to your day: