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Relax with Mac: Counselling department brings in therapy dog for students

Feeling stressed? Midterms making you want to crawl into a cave and hide? UFV’s counselling department’s registered therapy dog.

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Image: Katherine Gibson / The Cascade

By Katherine Gibson (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: October 30, 2013

Image: Katherine Gibson / The Cascade

Students can book appointments with therapy dog Mac through the counselling department.

Feeling stressed? Midterms making you want to crawl into a cave and hide?

UFV’s counselling department’s registered therapy dog, Mac, and his handler Dawn Holt are available for 15 minute drop-in sessions. It allows students to take part in a fast and easy stress reduction process.

Although this initiative is only two weeks old, the drop-in slots have seen a 70 per cent fill rate, which Holt believes speaks to the need for this type of program on campus.

“It’s a pretty positive response for being such an early stage – so that tells me that there’s a need out there,” she explains. “If [students] are having that time of the semester where things feel overwhelming—exams are coming up, midterms are happening, papers are due, the stress is building up and [they] need 15 minutes to forget about it all – this is a good way to do it.”

For Lee Brekstad, a first-year computer information systems (CIS) student, spending time with Mac means decreasing her stress, without having to discuss it – a fact she sees as beneficial to herself and others.

“It’s just that unconditional acceptance of all this emotion that you’re carrying,” she notes. “If you don’t feel like talking to somebody or answering questions, come see Mac. He just accepts whatever you’re there for.”

This pilot project has no definite end date; its continuation on campus is dependant on the demand of students.

“[Mac] has this knack, and it is completely unique to him – I have never seen it in another therapy dog,” Holt concludes. “He’s the only therapy dog that I’ve ever seen that has the unique ability to read what people need from him. He’s very, very special that way.”

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