Canine cuddles relieving student stress

For students separated from their pooch pals, a squad of local dogs are available for sessions of furry stress relief.

For the last four Fridays the SPCA-affiliated Cuddle Fix Dog Team have been bringing relaxation to the University of Otago.For an hour and a-half small groups of students can spend time with about five volunteered dogs in 10-minute increments.

The programme is a spin-off of the SPCA dog squad which for 25 years has been taking volunteers’ dogs to children’s wards and rest-homes.

Student Finnbar Grieve  had participated every week since it started and yesterday was no different.

"I try to pet a different dog every week.

"It’s therapeutic and relaxing and it’s good for study. I’ve got Fridays off and I just study all day and if I get enough work done I come here. It’s a good motivator."

University of Otago student Finnbar Grieve (19) chills with friendly dogs (from left) Martin, ...
University of Otago student Finnbar Grieve (19) chills with friendly dogs (from left) Martin, Eddie and Lochie at the OUSA Clubs and Societies Centre yesterday. Photo: Peter McIntosh
The Auckland psychology and linguistics student said part of the reason he went was he missed his family Dalmatian back home.

Organiser Marjorie Orr said Cat Rescue Dunedin had held similar sessions at the university for a while, but the Otago University Students’ Association asked the group to bring dogs in when there were few kittens around.

"We did some last year just in some halls. This year we’re doing it in the clubs and societies building and students can book a room."

The last session will be held next Friday.

The students register and usually give to the SPCA.

"They just sit around quietly and just chill out. We get lots of overseas students.

"They nearly all say they’ve got dogs at home and they really miss them. It’s a complete break from their usual routine."

All of the dogs were owned by the volunteers.

"I’m a retired vet, so I do most of the screening. Making sure they’re healthy, quiet, well behaved and that they like people," Dr Orr said.

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