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POOCHES initiative helps exam-weary students stay positive
Okanagan College Media Release

FrankieA new initiative aimed at tackling exam stress among students at Okanagan College could be just the paws that refreshes.

The College has launched POOCHES (Pawsitive Options at OC Helping Exam Stress) at its Kelowna and Penticton campuses, which welcomes volunteer therapy dogs from St. John Ambulance on campus so students can take a break, and rejuvenate.

Various dogs, ranging in size from a small Maltese all the way up to a Burmese Mountain Dog, are taking part in the program all week.

First-year Penticton student Frankie Reinbolt, who is enrolled in the Associate of Science program, didn’t waste any time getting to know Murphy, a seven-year-old Burmese Mountain dog and his handler Karen Christensen.

“Having therapy dogs on campus helps me feel more relaxed studying for my exam,” she said.

Even staff members, like Physics Professor Ryan Ranson, were taking time to get some pets in.

Recruiting and Events coordinator Jill Smith, who organized getting the dogs on the Penticton campus, isn’t surprised by the enthusiasm.

“When I attended university there was a small dog from St. John Ambulance who came around our campus during exam period,” she said. “We’d hear Oscar had arrived, and everyone would go looking for him. Just knowing he was campus brightened our spirits, and I wanted to give our students the same chance to relax while studying for their finals.”

South Okanagan Regional Dean Donna Lomas said she’s been impressed with how quickly students have embraced the program.

“You don’t really think about what a difference a dog can make, until you see the students’ faces light up. They really appreciate this. It’s a welcome break at a time when the pressures are mounting.”

For more information about the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Services, visit www.sja.ca and look under Community Services.