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07 November, 2016

Guide Dog puppies help students Stress Less

UNSW students pat Guide Dog Ambassador dogs during the 'pat-a-pooch' sessions

Photo credit: Arc @ UNSW

UNSW Pat-a-Pooch sessions with Guide Dogs

Last week, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT brought some puppy love to the University of NSW as part of Stress Less Week. Run by the Student Life organisation Arc UNSW, the week was aimed at raising awareness and improving mental health and wellbeing among students.

To help students de-stress, Guide Dogs provided them with the chance to cuddle four adorable seven-week-old Labrador puppies and two adult Guide Dog Ambassador Dogs during 15 minute ‘Pat-a-Pooch’ sessions.

As the leading provider of Guide Dogs that enable people with impaired vision to get around their communities safely and independently, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT knows the many benefits a dog can have on a persons’ life. For over 30 years, the organisation has also run a free community service called Pets As Therapy (PAT), which places carefully selected dogs with people who may be disadvantaged due to age, illness, disability or isolation.

UNSW students pat a Guide Dog puppy in the 'pat-a-pooch' session

Photo credit: Arc @ UNSW

“Studies have shown that there are many benefits to be gained from regular interaction with animals, including decreased feelings of loneliness and depression, as well as improved physical health,” Guide Dog Services Manager, Paul Adrian said.

“Dogs can also play an important role in the emotional and physical development of children by providing a source of love and companionship, and an opportunity to learn about responsibility first-hand.”

In addition to providing students with an opportunity to de-stress by interacting with the pups, the Pat-a-Pooch sessions were also of benefit to the puppies in training.

“Socialisation is a key element of training for all our puppies, so we welcome students to provide them with lots of cuddles and tummy scratches,” Mr Adrian said.

A group of students at UNSW on a lawn, patting Guide Dog Ambassador Dog Milo

In addition to providing an opportunity to de-stress by interacting with the pups, students had an opportunity to learn more about Guide Dogs NSW/ACT and the many ways they can support the organisation including volunteering and providing much-needed donations.

“It costs more than $35,000 to breed, raise and train one Guide Dog,” Mr Adrian said.

“As we receive less than 2 per cent of our funding needs from the government, we rely on the public's generosity to fund our services, which are all provided at no cost to those who need them.”

In 2015/16 Guide Dogs NSW/ACT trained 60 Guide Dogs and 40 Pets As Therapy dogs.

“With the demand for Guide Dogs’ services increasing due to growing numbers of people having trouble getting around as a result of vision loss, we’re incredibly grateful for the support we receive from the community,” Mr Adrian said.

There are an estimated 300,000 Australians with uncorrectable vision loss, 100,000 of whom live in NSW and the ACT.  These figures are predicted to increase by more than 50% by 2030.