BY MARIA VELOSO
The St. John Ambulance therapy dog program visited Sheridan’s Trafalgar Campus this week during the college’s Paws Room event. Dozens of students lined up to meet these furry companions as a way to relax during a hectic semester.
“Pet therapy is for people to destress,” said Glenna Ferguson, member of the therapy dog program and Shiloh’s owner. Shiloh was one of two golden retrievers at the Paws Room. “Everyone loves a dog. A lot of these kids have their own pets at home. It’s just nice to come and pet a dog because they make no judgments. And they make you feel good.”
The program has been bringing joy to the community for over 20 years. Its aim is to bring comfort to those who need it. “We’ve come to Sheridan already. We go to all the high schools, public libraries, every elementary school in Oakville,” said Ferguson. “You could be having a bad day and you get to pet a dog and it just makes you feel better.” Shiloh is two years old, and was enjoying his very first outing as a therapy dog.
“There’s not a lot of training,” said Ferguson. “They just have to behave and be a nice pet. They have to not jump and be calm.” Five adult dogs attended the Paws Room event, while surprisingly, there are no puppies involved in the program. To become a therapy dog, there are several tests a dog must pass in order to be accepted into the program. Puppies are too young to take the tests.
Nicole Cabral, a Sheridan student in the Human Resources program, came from HMC to see the dogs.
“I love dogs. I grew up with them,” said Cabral. “It’s nice to see them at school, because a lot of students here are living far from home. If they have dogs, they probably miss them a lot and seeing them today will feel a little bit like coming home.”
Students were more than ecstatic to interact with Shiloh. Many took the opportunity to take pictures with the therapy dogs.
While the dogs were only on the campus for one hour, it was an hour of excitement and relaxation for a lot of students. “It felt good to pet them,” said Cabral. “I forgot about my exams for a while.”