The Centre for Initiatives in Education has been running a pilot project with a therapy dog, Blue, who is placed in the administrative office and hosts office hours for students twice per week. Some people say that visiting with the dog simply brightens their day, while others may be struggling and looking for someone who will listen without judgment and gain more meaning from the experience. Together with Blue’s handler, this fosters a welcoming, supportive environment that can provide a low intensity, yet effective strategy to cope with mental health problems or other stresses. More often than not, a student that opens up about an ongoing issue will be effectively referred to another appropriate resource, due to the trust and bond that is formed over the connection with the animal. Tangible results are also seen in levels of confidence, social interactions and general satisfaction at Carleton University.
Funds raised will be used to support another year that the therapy dog project can continue to grow and thrive, and maintain its reputation as a viable strategy for mental health and well-being on campus. Funding will assist to support initiatives including the continuation of programming, regularly scheduled visits with therapy dogs on campus, allocation of space on campus, expansion of aesthetics and safety protocols, community development initiatives to increase awareness and use of the program (i.e. promotional campaigns) and research.
Support for this project will ensure we can provide a quality experience moving forward with future programs, monitored and delivered by a professional staff member to ensure a consistent experience, and the advocate for the welfare of the animal(s), and safety of everyone on campus.