Ease exam stress, hug a puppy
Otago University Students Association (OUSA) is easing the bite of October examinations with doses of animal love out of a new campus puppy room.
Students are lapping up the chance to spend a 10-minute slot with a couple of canine cuties. Bookings have been open for only a week, but there is already a waiting list.
"It's a bit of a win-win situation for us," OUSA communications co-ordinator Alasdair Johnston says.
The launch of the puppy room coincides with an OUSA mental health awareness campaign and is being run in conjunction with the SPCA. The animal welfare group is providing a rotation of two puppies for a set period each day in return for donations.
"Students get a little bit of a study break and some animal love," Johnston says.
"You know what it's like, you miss your pets at home."
The idea of harnessing the relaxing power of puppies came from OUSA president-elect Ruby Sycamore-Smith.
In fact, it was one of her election promises.
"Obviously puppies are really cool because animals destress you, and everyone's always talking about the importance of petting an animal when you are freaking out. So, I thought about a puppy room. I thought it would be cool to bring puppies to students during exam time when it is so stressful.
"Also, to give people a break because all that book work and stuff can be a little bit intense.
"I think also by having a puppy room encourages students to stop adopting animals. I do believe the reason why students have cats and stuff is because they're homesick, they don't have animal contact. They're not able to play with their pets.
"A simple dose of playing with the puppies can be a quick solution to fix that."
Sycamore-Smith says no sooner had she campaigned on the concept, students came knocking at her door, forcing fast execution.
"It got introduced more speedily then I thought it would.
"That's how intense the interest is. That's how much students want it. So, it's amazing."
Otago SPCA education manager Marjorie Orr says her organisation is keen to build a relationship with students. It also wants to educate students on the problem of students adopting kittens and cats, which tend to end up in the care of the SPCA when students leave at the end of the year.
At the same time the puppies were being socialised through the puppy room sessions. Young pups have often been mistreated by the time they arrive at the SPCA.
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