Imagine being in a room of fluffy, friendly and extremely adorable dogs whose sole purpose is to make you feel better. Sounds like heaven?
It sure felt like it when I attended NUSSU Academy’s first ever Animal Assisted Activities (AAA) Session, which was held in collaboration with Save Our Street Dogs (SOSD), an organisation which aims to help stray dogs find loving homes.
SOSD started these Healing Paws sessions to spread the joy of cuddling with a pup to those who need it – like stressed out students like us, and for the less fortunate, hospital patients and the elderly in old folk’s homes.
The dog therapy session worked wonders for my soul. We all know that the end of the semester weighs a crushing burden of stress on us, and the measly amount of sleep that we get doesn’t help in dealing with the pressure.
I’ve tried every coping mechanisms before – art therapy, food, new dramas to watch, shopping – but nothing has been as soothing as petting a cute, furry, four-legged friend.
Not only have the dogs undergone stringent assessments, they love meeting new friends! They come up to you with their tails wagging in excitement, pushing their noses into your hands, sit quietly by your side while you stroke their fur, and can even do tricks that get delighted murmurs from everyone – all while looking like they’re having the time of their lives just being with you.
I loved how all our canine therapists seemed to have fun, and were completely cool with the crowd of strangers vying for their attention.
From Kobe, the happiest French bulldog who looks like he’s perpetually smiling, to Cammie, the most zen golden retriever I have ever met. She has this soulful look about her – even looking at her brings down your stress levels a couple of notches. Not to mention Shiro who made everyone laugh by following Coco, the fashionable, powderpuff-like Pomeranian, everywhere she went.
Peanut the toy poodle and Chloe the goldie were intrepid explorers and made regular rounds around the room to check everyone and everything out. Like most of the small dogs, Cory, the schnauzer was cuddle material, and I lost track of the number of people who were snuggling him in their laps.
With therapists like these, who needs chocolate?
NUS PEACE organises a dog therapy session every semester during reading week to help stressed out students relax. Check out their website for updates on how to sign up for future sessions.