This novel initiative for CCST in collaboration with Edinburgh University last year was very popular and as a result "Paws" has been up and running fast again this spring. We have just completed a very busy and engaging series of events with several universities in central Scotland between March and May this year.
Five universities, Edinburgh University, Napier University, Queen Margaret University, Glasgow University and Stirling University all sought the use of our Therapet dogs to provide stress relief to their students in the weeks before the end of year examinations. Eleven sessions were organised and completed successfully. Between four and eight Therapets participated in each session. Thirty-five individual Therapets took part in one or more of the sessions. Seventeen different breeds or cross breeds were represented at the sessions. The dogs ranged in size and breed type from Miniature Schnauzer to Newfoundland. The really rewarding statistic is that one thousand and fifty seven students took advantage of the sessions!
This huge total may include a few members of the academic staff who were teaching nearby and whose students were aware of the proximity of the dogs. At one session the tutor was aware he was losing the attention of his students, and decided to adopt the view that "if you can't beat them join them" and he enquired from us if there were any spaces at the session for his students and staff if he finished his teaching early! We did manage to accommodate all who turned up!
The atmosphere at all the sessions was really positive with lots of interest and interaction with the dogs and animated conversations with the dogs' handlers. There were lots of smiling faces as the students reluctantly left the rooms.
Comments in the feedback questionnaires were almost universally enthusiastic and suggested that almost everyone felt some significant benefit from the experience. Suggested changes and improvements included requests for more sessions, longer sessions, outdoor sessions, bringing puppies or cats, and at least one heartfelt plea to adopt the Standard Poodle!
Trustee & Area Representative for Edinburgh & Lothians