By Chayonika Chandra
Scarcely used by most, Kerr Hall’s lower gym was overflowing with students waiting for their chance to de-stress by spending quality time with man’s best friend on Tuesday.
Headed by Bronwyn Dickson, a counsellor at Ryerson’s Centre for Student Development, RU Therapy Dogs held its first session in October in the hopes of reducing stress amongst students by giving them quality time with an assortment of different dog breeds. Now six months and six sessions later, the university is planning to bring a group of therapy dogs to campus on a weekly basis — all because students can’t get enough of playing with their furry friends.
“They’re asking for it to be on a weekly basis,” said Dickson, referring to the overwhelming amount of student demand that RU Therapy Dogs has received. The first event was held in October, where 500 students came out to see the dogs. Some students had to be turned away because there were not enough dogs and space to accommodate the amount of people that showed up. “We had no idea what to expect,” Dickson said. “That’s why we had it in a small room in the Victoria building.”
St. John Ambulance, a first aid training organization, is responsible for bringing a group of dogs to these large school wide events, while Dickson has been bringing her own dog, Kate, to smaller weekly sessions held in the Podium building.
“It takes our minds off everything stressful,” said Zachary Guy, a first-year aerospace engineering student. “I didn’t know what to expect, it would be really cool if they brought more [therapy sessions],” said Adam Rosenberg, a second-year architectural science student.
Dickson teamed up with Marc Emond, manager of the Access Centre and Melissa Showler, a member of Ryerson’s security team in February 2013, to write the proposal that brought the therapy dogs to the university. Their hope is that this type of therapy will encourage students to seek help during stressful times.
“It’s all a big mental health initiative,” she said.