Yesterday marked an exciting day for stressed students and animal lovers alike, as Guide Dogs visited the Union. At the beginning of this week, the Union announced that they would be providing bubble wrap and a puppy room in the hopes of reducing students’ stress levels, an initiative which received national interest.
When entering the room, students were paired off and sent to a station, where a dog and their carer were present. Whilst the students were allowed to play and tickle the dogs, they also chatted to their carer and many came out with a better understanding about the charity and the use of the dogs.
The day was so popular that all slots for a puppy viewing had gone by 1.30pm, with a queue that extended outside the arc when booking opened yesterday morning! The students that were lucky enough to see the dogs felt extremely relaxed, with one student remarking that she had a “bit of a giggle” which helped her forget about her exam stress.
Another student, Sophie Stanley, told The Ripple that it was “a great revision break and a way to support the guide dogs charity.” She also exclaimed that both she and her friends wished they could have smuggled a puppy out to their seats in the library.
The University of Leicester is not the first institution to implement this measure though, as a few weeks ago Nottingham Trent University asked Guide Dogs if they would be willing to come and help out their students. The visit at Trent was scheduled for students who had voted in the executive elections, a concept which Leicester had itself imposed several weeks before. Despite the annoyance of some Trent students at this concept, the initiative was successful, so much so that Guide Dogs agreed to another event at our own university.
Liz Gilbert, a member of Guide Dogs told The Ripple: “It’s a great idea for students as it allows them to interact with the dogs, as well as raise awareness about the charity.”
Guide Dogs do not receive any funding from the government and are solely dependent on donations, fundraisers and sponsors, and many students who used the puppy room contributed a pound or more to the buckets, bought some merchandise from the charity or took part in their raffle.
Liz also said that their service costs £50 million to run and, as the owners of the dogs do not have to pay for them, the charity has to ensure that they have £50, 000 for each dog’s lifetime. This includes the dogs’ training, which consists of a year of puppy walking, 4 months of basic training, and 3 months of advanced training. After this is completed a dog can be matched with an owner.
Hopefully yesterday has calmed some nerves about the exams to come, and provided an alternative revision break for many. Whilst students now return to their books to revise for their upcoming exams, many will be left wondering when the dogs will return to the university.
by Jessica Wells