We interviewed Zoe, who attended a ‘Puppy Petting Day’ at the University of West England (UWE). She told us about her experience and what she learned there.
What was the event and why did you go along?
The Puppy Petting Day was an event held at UWE, where students could spend time with puppies, stroking them and generally relaxing for a time. I had heard of similar events being successful in the past for reducing stress in students, and being a dog-lover (and a stressed student), I wanted to experience the puppy petting for myself.
Who organised the event and why did they do it?
The stress relief event was put on by University Cribs (an organisation involved with supporting the provision of student housing), who host these kind of events all around the country. It was in conjunction with the Student’s Union.
This particular Puppy Petting Day was held just after the university exam period and during the deadline period, created as a way to help students relax during a hugely stressful time of the year. The Students Union had seen that spending time with dogs has been found to reduce stress levels. ITV News reported recently that studies show petting a dog decreases blood pressure and relieves anxiety.
The event also aimed to raise money to support Mind – a charity who work to improve mental health. On the day, attendees were asked to donate.
Tell us about the event itself and what it involved?
It was a very popular event, and so was competitive to get a place on- I applied twice in the past to the Frenchay Campus and didn’t get a space. This time, I applied to the Glenside Campus at a later time in the day.
Upon arrival, you wait in the queue and are taken in groups of six to a large room with artificial grass separated into two pens. There are workers from University Cribs and the Student Union in the same room to chat to you about the event and ensure safety. You take your shoes off, make sure you have clean hands, are not allowed food in there, and are cautioned to be gentle with the puppies.
There were three puppies in each pen for around 10 minutes, so you get to cuddle them for quite some time. There were also lots of toys which they played with and you could just chat to the other people with you.
Who provided the dogs and what type of dogs were there?
The dogs were all pugs at about 8 weeks old. The breeder who provided them stayed in the room all day. He supported the cause, and had the benefit of socialising the puppies, which is an important and useful step in raising dogs, especially as a breeder.
What did the other students think about the event?
Everyone thought the puppies were adorable. A lot of the students were talking about their dogs at home- this was interesting because many clearly signed up as they missed the company of dogs. Most people came in small groups and just had a love for dogs.
How can you find out about similar events taking place?
This event was circulated through Facebook, so check out the University Cribs Facebook page to see if similar events are happening in your area. The event recurred the next week, and may be happening again in the future, so make sure you stay tuned into UWE Students Union events.
Know of any other dog events or ways of getting involved with dogs going on? Let us know! Spending time with dogs is great for mental health and well-being and sharing stories about this can raise awareness of mental health issues and the way that dogs can help!
Love Rupert the Westie
Written by Elena Holmes