‘Puppy therapy’ at Columbia Bible College

Program helps students deal with end-of-semester stress

(From left) Tolu Oju

(From left) Tolu Oju

Students at Columbia Bible College in Abbotsford participated in “puppy therapy” on Dec. 8 as a way to relieve end-of-semester stress.

The event was the idea of Claire Weiss, who recently joined Columbia’s staff as counselling services supervisor.

“Research on animal-assisted therapy has shown that interaction with animals has a really calming effect on your physiology, so it’s really good stress relief and improves your focus,” she said. “When you go back to studying for exams, you’re more engaged.”

Other colleges and universities, including Simon Fraser University and University of the Fraser Valley, have also had puppy therapy programs.

Dozens of students signed up for 15-minute sessions with the litter of friendly miniature schnauzer puppies, loaned to the college by local dog breeder Catherine Betts of My Schnauzers.

The puppies were a big hit as they happily cuddled and played with the students.

“I’m writing a paper right now and I took a break to come here,” said intercultural studies major Jessica Dingman.  “I feel better!”

Columbia Bible College currently serves more than 380 students enrolled in five certificate and six diploma and degree programs.