Ryan Stone didn't let his dog allergy get in the way of snuggling with a few black lab-mix puppies at Laurentian University's East Residence on Jan. 29.
“They're so cute,” the second-year Outdoor Adventure Leadership student said. “I love them. I'm allergic to dogs, but it doesn't matter. I'm here anyways.”
Dozens of students turned up to play with the seven puppies from Pet Save, which were brought into the residence this week as a stress reliever.
St. John Ambulance's Therapy Dog program is also bringing several dogs to the residence to interact with the students.
“I think it's awesome,” Stone said. “It's a great thing for everybody. We're coming up to midterms. It's a good stress reliever, and just fun times.”
Bringing dogs into university residences as a stress reliever isn't unique, as it's been done at other Canadian universities, said Laurentian's residence life supervisor, Joseph McGibbon.
The idea has proved so popular Laurentian is planning on doing the same thing again during final exams in April, he said.
“Some of these students have come up to me and basically said 'This is the best idea ever,' ” McGibbon said.
“If it's not a stress-reliever, either way they like it, so I'm happy about it. I think for sure, students taking a break is a great way to relieve some stress.”
Many students have pets at home, and miss having them around, as Laurentian's residences don't allow pets other than fish, McGibbon said.
While students living in residence can't adopt the puppies, Pet Save is hoping all the attention they're receiving this week will help them find their forever homes, he said.
“We're hoping people will see this and they'll be able to help out with Pet Save and just give them a call or go see them and see what puppies are available,” McGibbon said. “They always have dogs that are looking for homes.”
Nicole St. Marseille, Laurentian's director of security, risk and parking, who also moonlights as a Pet Save volunteer, helped to set up the puppy visit.
“Students get lonely, and school is stressful,” she said. “It's a good opportunity to allow them to de-stress. A lot of them miss their pets from home, so it's nice, and it's fun.
“Clearly, there's a lineup. So it turns out this is a really good initiative and we're really happy about it.”
While St. Marseille said the puppies were almost being “mauled with love” by the students, she said the initiative is actually really good for the dogs.
“A lot of the puppies come in, and they haven't been socialized,” she said. “They haven't been around people. So it's a good opportunity to get that human interaction for them. I think they're getting some good exposure here.”
At least one Laurentian student had their eye on one of the puppies.
Third-year modern languages student Kaitlyn Saunders said she'd been texting her father, who works at the university, asking him if her family could adopt one of the black lab-mix puppies.
“I've been texting him pictures, saying 'OK, I'm bringing home a dog. Which one do you want?'” she said. “He's like 'No.' I think I'm going to do it anyways.”
Although she didn't have much hope her father would relent, Saunders said she still loved interacting with the puppies even if she can't take one home.
“I've been looking forward to it all day,” she said. “I had classes all morning. I just rushed over here after. I was so excited.”
The canines will also be in room ER 217 in Laurentian's East Residence from 12-4:30 p.m. and 6:30-7 p.m. Jan. 30-31. Members of the public are welcome to take part in the event.
For more information about adopting animals from Pet Save, visit petsave.ca or phone 705-692-3319.