Dogs Help De-Stress Ruff Students
A group of dogs, known as “therapets”, helped more than 100 students relax last week at an event at Strathclyde Students’ Union.
The Paws Against Stress event on 13 March was organised by the Strathclyde Student Minds society and Canine Concern Scotland Trust (CCST), and gave students the opportunity to pet, cuddle, talk, and give treats to six therapets dogs, including a border collie, a mal-shi, and a greyhound.
The event, which was fully booked within a day of being announced, allowed Strathclyde students to alleviate anxiety by getting to know their new furry friends during 20-minute time slots.
The Union ran a similar event last year, but when Bethan Gray, President of Strathclyde Student Minds, discovered that they had no plans to bring the therapets back, she decided to organise this year’s Paws Against Stress.
Gray said: “It was so popular before and I know it’s something that students really want. Everybody loves dogs and it’s really effective in helping to reduce stress and taking your mind off things.
“It’s important to have things that make coming along to mental health interventions feel less intimidating. It’s targeting those lower level of stress that I think is really important because that’s where everything starts; everything starts off.”
CCST, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, launched Paws Against Stress in 2013 at the University of Edinburgh, and in 2015, more than 5000 students attended one of 50 Paws Against Stress events throughout the country.
There are more than 800 volunteers in CCST, whose therapets also visit care homes, hospitals, and hospices, as well as helping children overcome fears and reading difficulties.
James Macdonald has volunteered with CCST since its inception and has been a trustee since 1998.
He said: “[The best part of therapets is] meeting people. You go into situations where you wouldn’t normally go if it wasn’t for your dog. We certainly wouldn’t be in universities or colleges.
“A lot of people will talk to you if you’ve got a dog, rather than if it’s just human to human.”
Gray hopes to organise another Paws Against Stress event before the end of term. He added: “We’ll be doing one for exams but, to be honest, I don’t think you need an excuse to get the dogs in. You can get stressed at any time so you don’t need to have a set reason.”
Although Paws Against Stress is a free event, CCST needs fundraising support to continue putting on such events. Macdonald said: “If you want to sit in a bath of cold beans to fundraise for us, that would be great”