University of Victoria student Danya Smith gets some love from Pacific Animal Therapy Society pitbull Jake during UVic’s annual De-Stress Fest.

Play with a dog, lose exam stress

Twenty-one dogs, from Edie a pug-miniature pinscher, to Frost, a Kuvasz the size of a donkey, greeted a constant stream of students

The buzz emanating from a thick lineup of students spilling from Cadboro Commons on Wednesday afternoon would have anyone assume a rock show was about to go down in the University of Victoria building.

Instead: puppies.

Twenty-one dogs, from Edie a pug-miniature pinscher, to Frost, a Kuvasz the size of a donkey, greeted a constant stream of students who showered the canine visitors with pats and giggles during Doggy Playtime.

For two hours students were invited to join the event as a means of relieving some stress in the week leading up to final exams.

“When you live in res, you don’t have that access (to pets),” said Boma Brown, a member of UVic Student Ambassadors, event co-organizers. “That’s one thing we’ve been hearing: ‘I miss my puppy so much.’”

Toni Garrett, a member of Pacific Animal Therapy Society (PATS) and former long-time co-op counsellor at UVic, was among the crowd with Lucy, her cavalier King Charles spaniel.

Garrett, no stranger to student stress, added Lucy to her family with the intent of designating her a therapy dog and has delighted in bringing her to all three of the Doggy Playtime de-stress events that have been held thus far.

“She was really excited when she came in,” Garrett said, while a student knelt down to gush over her dog. “It’s very gratifying work.”

Dogs from Broken Promises Rescue, Citizen Canine and the general community also joined in the playtime.

The De-Stress Fest began this week with free hot chocolate, breakfasts at the Graduate Students’ Lounge and free chair massages.

It was set to wrap up today (Friday) after Santa rides his sleigh around campus.

Unwilling to reveal full details of the De-Stress Fest planned for the spring exam period, Brown confirmed it will likely involve some meditation, a little cotton candy and of course, more of the doggy playtime.

To learn about PATS, visit



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