“It offers students an opportunity to meet with typically two or three dogs and spend some time with them, and hopefully reduce their stress levels,” says Diane Myers TPOC’s Guelph team leader.
Myers says that meeting the dogs has a real calming effect on students as it lets them forget about exams and assignments for a few hours. She also says that some students don’t want to leave once they have met the dogs.
“There is a ton of a research out there that talks about the benefits of animals especially dogs and their help with stress relief and a healthy lifestyle,” says Myers.
According to a 2017 study called “Dog ownership and the risk of cardiovascular disease,” researchers in Sweden studied more than three million men and women between the ages of 40 and 80 and followed their health records (and whether they owned a dog) for about 12 years.
The study found that for people who lived alone, owning a dog could decrease their risk of death by 33 per cent and their risk of cardiovascular-related death by 36 per cent, compared to single people without a pet.
Nancy Birch University of Guelph-Humber’s head of library services says the overall goal is to support mental health initiatives on campus and to give students an opportunity to decrease their stress levels.
Library services held its first ‘Take A Paws’ event in March 2017, Birch says the registration time slots filled up within few days and the event was a great success.
Myers says what makes the event unique is the attitude the dogs have towards meeting people and the training they have gone through.
“The animals we bring in have gone through an evaluation where we really look for good temperament. Were not necessarily looking for a breed or an appearance but more the dogs level of friendliness and want to be there”
For those concerned with the dogs being overwhelmed, Myers says the animals are always looked after.
“We are constantly watching the animals to see if they are getting stressed out and if we do notice any signs we’ll take them out for a walk which usually calms them down.”
Mauro Cesario a fourth year student who attended the event last year says he loved the idea.
“I own a dog so when I saw the event poster I found it interesting. The dogs they brought in were incredibly friendly and playful it was a fun time for everyone.”
Birch says previous Paws rooms have received great feedback along with some memorable moments.
“One student signed up for the event to face her fears of dogs in a controlled environment. It was very moving to see her visit with a gentle and well-trained dog. We also had students specifically thank us for cheering them up during a stressful day.”
Students interested in the event can sign up at https://www.guelphhumber.ca/events/take-paws-library-services more information on the event can also be found with library services.