CHRONIC, a student-run peer support group for those with chronic health conditions at UEA, helped to make revision a little easier last month by holding another successful Pets as Therapy (PAT) session. On 5th May, a variety of breeds of dogs could be found in the LCR, with their owners in tow. Students were able to book or drop in and have a short session with a dog to give stressed out studiers a break from the library with a furry friend.

The dogs don’t need to have any training before becoming PAT dogs, however they do undergo an assessment to make sure they have the right temperament to receive all the attention. One of those who passed the assessment was Beau, a four-year-old long-haired chihuahua, whose owner said that: “[Beau] thoroughly enjoys meeting people”. Whilst Beau was the smallest dog on the day, Abbie, a seven-year-old golden retriever was a larger breed. Abbie’s owner Wendy said that she had been volunteering since she was 2, and that “it was rewarding that she is giving pleasure to people”.

PAT doesn’t only operate for those with chronic health conditions, they also regularly go into schools and residential homes to brings companionship and comfort. Isaly, a five-year-old golden retriever, found the school visits the most exciting, according to her owner, because she enjoyed the attention the children gave her.

But the dogs were receiving plenty of attention from students too. Katie, a first year film and television student, was feeling the pressure with coursework deadlines and said that it was “something [she had] never tried before and [she] thought it would be nice and calming”.

Eleanor, a law postgraduate, had “been to one before, and it was on the day of an exam last time! It’s a really nice way of relaxing”. Whereas Jessica, a fourth year biochemistry student, said that with “a mind buzzing with proteins, it’s jut a stress reliever, just to stop thinking about it all”.

The CHRONIC committee said: “This is the fourth PAT session run by Chronic, and we hope to run more sessions next year. As a peer support group, we really enjoy organising these events to help students relax – the students, volunteers and dogs always leave the sessions feeling much calmer and happier!”

PAT are always looking for new volunteers, so if you have a dog who you think could help others, get in contact through www.petsastherapy.org