Belfast Telegraph

Puppy love de-stresses students as exams bite

By Claire Williamson

Students at Queen's University Belfast had a stress-buster with a difference yesterday as they were shown how some puppy love can help calm them down.

The event - the first of its kind - was part of the University's Are Ye Well Campaign, which helps students avoid stress during the exams period.

On the basis of research showing that interacting with dogs can reduce stress levels, Guide Dogs NI brought 10 puppies along to meet students one-on-one.

Guide Dogs NI's Rebecca Harper said animal welfare was at the centre of the experience, but added: "We made it a training exercise for the dogs. They're getting socialised and learning they have to remain relaxed."

One of the students at the event was Anna Smyth (19) from Carrickfergus, who had just finished a Spanish exam.

"What the dogs are capable of and what they do for their helpers is really admirable," she said.

"Without a doubt it has de-stressed me. I had an exam a couple of hours ago, and so had this to look forward to.

"It’s a really good idea."

Community fundraiser for Guide Dogs NI Rebecca Harper said the dog’s welfare was at the centre of the experience.

"We made it a training exercise for the dogs. They’re getting socialised and learning that even if there are lots of people or dogs in a room that they have to remain with their handler and very relaxed."

One of the working Guide Dogs belonged to student James Cunningham (18) who said without Bart he wouldn’t be at university. He said education was key.

He added: "It’s important that people realise what whenever the harness is on the dog that you are not supposed to come and say hello.

"Unless you come up and ask and I can give you permission."

Chloe Patterson (23) student officer for welfare said they were overwhelmed by the response and hope to run it again.

"It’s the first time it’s happened in a higher or further institution in Northern Ireland," she said.

It went viral when we publicised the event and was fully booked up in an hour."

Belfast Telegraph


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