Dog therapy a ‘pawfect’ way to de-stress

Studying for the Higher School Certificate (HSC) can be ‘ruff.’

For many students the stress of wanting to succeed can become overwhelming so the Camden Youth Council came up with the ‘pawfect’ idea to help.

They decided to organise weekly pet therapy sessions at the Narellan Library for year 12 students.

Youth council member Lubna Sherieff came up with the idea.

“I’ve read that a lot of universities like Harvard bring puppies into the library during exams because there are studies about how animal therapy actually helps to increase your mental health,” she said.

“It has a lot of positive benefits and I thought we should do it at Narellan Library during the HSC.”

This is the first time the program has taken place at the library.

“We also chose to start it in October because it is mental health month and we wanted to tie it all in,” Ms Sherieff said.

“We’ve been planning it for a few months and I think it is going well so far.

“We are getting great feedback from the students already so that is pretty cool.”

Camden deputy mayor Therese Fedeli said it was a fantastic idea.

“Seeing the stresses that these kids go through, anything that we can do to take that stress away is great,” she said.

“I think this is great work by the youth council – this is why I love working with young people, just look at what we can achieve.”

PAWS Pet Therapy representative Sharon Stewart said she started working with therapy dogs as it bought her love of nursing and animals together.

She said this was the first time she had been asked to do anything like this.

“It was something a little bit different for us,” she said.

“This mental health month is the first time we have really been approached to do  different things, we are going onto uni campuses and into workplaces as well.

“It’s very unusual but everyone seems to be recognising mental health month and the value that pets can have as a part of that.”

She and her seven-year-old Golden Retriever, Hudson will visit the library regularly. 

Ms Stewart said the reaction from students was wonderful.

“Everyone is saying how stressed they were and how patting the dogs made them feel so relaxed,” she said.

“It has all been very positive.”

The Paws For A Second sessions will be held every Monday and Wednesday in October from 3.30pm at Narellan Library, Elyard St, Narellan.