DogPets As Therapy dog Zara will return to the University of Bolton next month following phenomenal feedback in the initial trial.

Zara, the curly coated retriever will be back to help students feeling stressed. Research shows therapy dogs have a proven positive impact on anxiety.

Feedback from a January pilot study shows 97 per cent of respondees would definitely use the service again. Eighty per cent said it had definitely improved their anxiety levels.

Senior Psychology Lecturer at the University of Bolton, Dr Jacqui Harrison, says research shows therapy dogs have proven positive impact of anxious people.

‘For many years, we have been aware of the positive psychological and physiological benefits of interacting with animals, with dogs being the most effective in providing these benefits. Recently, scientific research has shown that the mere presence of a therapy dog can significantly reduce anxiety levels in people who are encountering stressful situations in their lives.

‘Petting a trained therapy dog in a controlled environment has been shown to reduce people’s blood pressure and heart-rate, and generally instil a feeling of well-being for the recipient, with some of these changes lasting well beyond the initial interaction.’

Fiona Valentine, Zara’s owner and Disability Services Manager in the University Students Centre admitted she was overwhelmed by the reception which greeted Zara.

‘There was a great buzz around the day from the students and she was mobbed by students and staff like a celebrity every time we left the office.

‘It does appear that many students are talking about the service as walking around the campus she is either recognised by name or by the fact that she is the therapy dog.

Student feedback included ‘Zara is a really sweet calm dog, which makes the experience really great’ and that it was ‘a novel and relaxing way to take time out.’

Another said ‘I found it a very calming dog, she is well trained and very friendly’ with one admitting that they felt ‘calmer even though my deadline is in 24 hours.’

Zara will be visiting the University from 12.15pm on Wednesday 17 February, Thursday 3 March, Wednesday 6 April, Wednesday 4 May and during exam week on Wednesday 25 May.

Appointments will be based in the Student Centre, lasting ten minutes, and can be booked by calling into the advice centre in the Chancellor’s Mall, by telephone on 01204 903 733 or by email at ku.ca1579686413.notl1579686413ob@sr1579686413osivd1579686413atned1579686413uts1579686413.






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