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Acadia University going to the dogs

David Schaffner | Your Valley

Axel was one of three therapy dogs with Therapeutic Paws of Canada (TPOC) that were on hand recently at Acadia University to help students relieve some of the stress associated with exams. David Shaffner

Arriving at Acadia University on a chilly Friday afternoon I wasn’t sure what to expect as I rounded a corner and started to climb the stairs toward the Paws room during this the first annual de-stress event for Acadia students.

The stairwell was lined with five floors of people standing patiently in line. I thought perhaps I was in the wrong place, perhaps this was a line up for autographs? Was a rock star in town? After asking one of the kids I found out, no, I was in the right place, all of these students were waiting for their chance to hang out for a short time with the dogs of the TPOC program (Therapeutic Paws of Canada).

I made my way through the crowds to the top of the stairs out of breath from perhaps a few too many maple bacon donuts, and met event organizer Britanie Wentzel at the door. Wentzel told me that the event was turning out to be such a huge success with more than 572 students signed up they had to extend their hours.

Everywhere there are students adoring two beautiful Bernese mountain dogs: Axel and Luka, with one huge lovable Saint Bernard, Coal.

Of course, I have to meet Coal, he’s such a big, beautiful, friendly dog. I talk to his handler, Mark Grant, the team leader from HRM, and we talk about how the kids really enjoy their time with the dogs as it allows the students to forget a little about the pressures of studying for exams. Events like this usually allows the students to open up and talk about their own family pets and for just a little bit they can focus on something other than the stress of exams.

What a fantastic event to help students de-stress a little during one of the busiest times of college life. I wish them all the best, and I hope the event only grows in the future at Acadia. To learn more about the TPOC program visit tpoc.ca/programs/paws-room-program/


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