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At this time of the year, we only want to do two things: stay in bed all day and ignore all of our assignments. Finals are coming up very soon, the late night study sessions and stress can definitely result in a few gray hairs. If your only way of coping with stress is to sleep all day and stuff your face, well I want to present you someone who can help: Rusty Bear. He is a part of the Pet Therapy program offered by the Student Academic Success Service (SASS) and Health Promotion (UOHS) on campus.

Who is Rusty Bear?

Rusty Bear is the most adorable dog ever. He is an eleven year old golden retriever who belongs to a teacher a uOttawa. His owner said that he is “a stomach on feet” kind of dog, meaning Rusty would spend his days eating if he could (Who wouldn’t?). Rusty Bear is quite an impressive dog, partly due to his size; he really does look like a bear, but a gentle fluffy one. He has a very big fan base at uOttawa. I was walking with him and his owner on campus and we were stopped many times and asked “Is that Rusty Bear?” or “Can I take a picture with him?”

What’s the Pet Therapy program?

It’s a program that allows students who are experiencing anxiety or who are going through a stressful time to spend some times with dogs trained especially for coping with that. It’s a well-known fact that interaction with friendly animals can have significant health and mental benefits, from lowering blood pressure to lessening depression. The program was introduced three years ago, when the health promotion team learned about a similar project taking place at Dalhousie university. It’s not any typical dog that can show up to the program. Rusty Bear was trained by his owner and was then required to pass an exam, however it was not an easy one.

What do you do at Pet Therapy?

You spend an hour with Rusty Bear or one of the others dogs (Tundra or Sassy) and relax. You will meet other students that are present just to see the dogs and of course you can pet the dogs. The one having the most fun during this therapy session is Rusty Bear himself, because he is surrounded by people who just want to give him attention. The owner will also be pleased to talk to you about him.

When & where is it?

The therapy sessions last one hour and usually take place once a week. You can go to every session or just once and it doesn’t cost anything. The therapy takes place at the health resource in the UCU 203 or in the 90U lounge.

Fun Fact about Rusty Bear:

His dad is a celebrity! Did you ever watch the show Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye that aired from 2002 till 2005? If you’ve never seen it, it’s about a deaf F.B.I. agent in Washington. She never goes anywhere without Levi, her hearing dog. According to Rusty Bear’s owner, Rusty Bear happens to be of Levi’s many puppies. So, now I get why Rusty is so loved by everyone, it’s because he has famous genes!

If you want to attend the next Pet Therapy session, that last one of the semester is taking place this Friday at 11am. Since it’s the last session of the year, it will be 2 hours long and there will be 5 dogs present! Check the event page on Facebook for more updates or visit the website for uOttawa’s Counselling and Coaching services.

Have a great pet therapy session! 

 

Picture credits:

http://www.sass.uottawa.ca/personal/pet-therapy.php

Gloria Charles-Pierre is Her Campus uOttawa Alumni. She was one of our writers for four years and the French editor for two years. Gloria graduated from the University of Ottawa with a degree in Arts specialized in French Lierature and two certificates in LSQ (Langue des Signes Québécoise). Now, she is in Teachers College and loving it. Gloria spends her time doing kick-boxing and working on her personnal writing project while growing in her faith. She hopes to travel more, and to continue her studies with a Masters in Education and also continue working in editing.
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