Pet Therapy @ uOttawa

Welcome to Pet Therapy!

Pet therapy is an initiative that allows individuals who may be experiencing stress, a difficult situation, or who may just enjoy the benefits of cuddling a pet, to improve their wellness by spending time with therapy dogs who come to provide support on campus.

Thanks to the kindness of local pet therapy organisations, the University of Ottawa is able to provide pet therapy to our students via the dog and handler teams who volunteer their time to visit our campuses.

There is no cost to come to a pet therapy session, and attendance is first come, first served.

Keep up-to-date on pet therapy and join us on Facebook.

Group of students surrounding a dog on its back

 

Meet the dogs!

Current dogs

Benton
A small white and curly dog sitting for a pose, with his pet therapy certification bandana.

Benton

Hi! My name is Benton Diefenbaker (for those of you into Canadian 90s TV shows, this will make sense), and I’m an Australian Spoodle.

I was born in Australia and moved to Canada with my parents a few years ago. The moving part was scary, but discovering once I got here that I could shove my face in snowbanks at minus 20 for fun was great!

In my middle age, I decided to take on new challenges, so I was certified as a therapy dog at age 8, in 2016, through Ottawa Therapy Dogs. I like pet therapy because I love giving love, and making people’s days better. Pet therapy is also my chance to be the centre of attention. See, I am a middle child, and my siblings - the cat and my sister, a spoodle 1/3 my size - boss me around the house.

One of my favourite moments as a pet therapy dog was being the star of a video to support student mental health! Oh yes, you can check out my moment of fame right here, in this video about self-care!

My favourite things are :

  • removing all squeakers from toys, and making sure all the stuffing is spread around the yard;
  • sneaking kisses on unsuspecting visitors (not when I am doing pet therapy of course, ahem);
  • getting into mud puddles and ponds (only up to my tummy) so my mom says I look like a marshmallow dipped in chocolate.

Fun fact about my mom: her hair is even curlier than mine!

Kima
A husky dog proudly sitting in the snow.

Kima

Hello there! My name is Kima and I was named after the police detective in the HBO TV series, The Wire. I’m a Husky mix and my vet thinks I’m part German Shepherd because of my big ears.

When I was only 5 weeks old, local police officers rescued me in my small Northwestern Ontario community, so I LOVE people in uniforms. I think that’s why I have a special talent for spotting police vehicles from far away; before my parents can even see them!

I was certified as a therapy dog through Ottawa Therapy Dogs in 2017 when I was 8 years old and I love it because I just get to lie there and get my belly rubbed.

My favourite thing to do is sun tanning all year round – in the grass, in my mom’s garden and in the snow. I also like to find the toys and treats that my parents hide around the house for me but I have to share them with my annoying little sister Winter.

Fun fact about my mom: she works as a Health Promotion Specialist here at the University.

Luther
A golden retriever

Luther

Hello! My name is Luther and I am an American golden retriever. I was certified at the age of 17 months, in June 2015, through Ottawa Therapy Dogs (OTD). But I was too young to start as a working dog and had to wait until I turned two!

I am at my best when I am working. I say “working” but in fact I am sprawled out on the floor and about five to eight people are petting and brushing me. I just can’t get enough.

I have also figured out which days Mum is taking me to do therapy work. She does something different those mornings... Could it be that she is in a better mood? Is it because she has been grooming me the night before and in the morning? All I know is that I follow her from room to room and get very excited.

Beside therapy work, I just love chasing squirrels to my heart’s content during fall, and taking walks during winter. I can walk for two hours in sub-zero weather and then come home and crash in front of the fire place. My mother has to wake me up to have my supper!

Speaking of my mother, she is an animal lover. There are cats all over the house, rescued parrots, as well as two other dogs, namely Wallace, my brother, and Trude, an English golden retriever who rules the place. She loves us all, but deep down, I know that I am her favourite. She told me so…!

Wallace
A small golden retriever smiling with his tongue out,.

Wallace

Hi! My name is Wallace, and I’m an American golden retriever. I was certified at the age of 24 months, in April 2019, by Ottawa Therapy Dogs. I am new at this therapy dog thing, but I am very honoured to be making my debut at the University of Ottawa in September.

My favorite seasons are fall and winter. I have so much fun taking long walks, or playing and running around in colder weather!

I am a gentle soul. My mother just rescued some kittens last month; they come right up to my food bowl and try to share my kibble with me. I don’t like it much but I let them check out the contents of my bowl and I never growl.

I have an older brother, Luther, who also does pet therapy. Our human mom loves rescuing and taking care of animals, so I guess wanting to help others runs in the family!

Fun fact about our family: it is quite big, and is composed of a lot of four-legged or feathery members. But my mom told me I was her favorite, so…don’t tell the others (especially Luther)!

Happy
A golden retriever wearing a Canada hat, looking unamused.

Happy

Hello there! My name is Happy and I'm a golden retriever.

I was certified as a therapy dog through Ambulance St. John. I've been coming to uOttawa for a few years now and I love it! I have three regular places every week, so I'm a very busy dog.

I've been asked many times "Why do you do pet therapy?". Well... Are you kidding? I get attention! I get petted. I get massages! I get told constantly how gorgeous I am. Everyone smiles at me. I get to spend tons of time with my human Mom. There's no better life!

As for my hobbies, I am crazy for stuffies! They musn't be too big, though, and NO squeakers. I love the crunchy sounding ones. I take one out every time I go outside and my human Dad brings them all in at night, so that I can do it all again the next day.

I've been made to wear hats occasionally, but this is not something I enjoy at all. I “frown” and bear it just long enough for photos. Sometimes those outrageous humans try sunglasses on me .... WHAT?! How totally ridiculous.

Fun fact about my mom : she thinks she owns me... But I definitely own her!

Pablo
A black dog is lying in the snow, looking at the camera.

Pablo

My name is Pablo. I'm 6 years old. I’m a Rottweiler and Flatcoat retriever mix, but if you look closely, you might find a few small white spots on my coat... I was certified as a therapy dog in 2018. To tell you the truth, I was born a therapy dog, but my family took some time to recognize it. I love people. In addition to working at the University of Ottawa, I also visit a pain clinic and a mental health unit at a local hospital.

I am always amazed to see how much people enjoy petting me, rubbing my belly or putting their head against mine. It's as if they do not realize that I enjoy their presence as much as they do mine. I'm so comfortable in the Health Sciences library of the University of Ottawa that sometimes I make some sounds to express my delight.

I'm a calm dog, that's right, but you'd be surprised to hear my bark when someone approaches my house. My deep voice does not match my sweet face or temperament. I am a docile dog. I listen to my family members, no matter if they speak to me in French, English or Spanish. The only exception to this is when we go for a walk along the Rideau River, near my home. If it’s a beautiful sunny day, I can’t resist. I have to run in the water. I love to play in the water. Nothing can stop me!

My favorite things are: playing with my squeaky green ball, kayaking, eating a fried egg on a Sunday morning, putting my snout deep in the fresh snow, playing hide and seek (especially when treats are involved), rolling in the grass, surprising people with big wet kisses and sleeping in a tent with my family.

Other dogs - Picture gallery

Miso and Sam are also frequent visitors to uOttawa pet therapy!

An average-sized frizzy brown dog, laying on the floor, getting pets.

Miso

A small brown and white dog with long ears.

Sam

Alumni

Content to come!

Schedule

Main campus

Fall 2019

Date

Time

Room

September 20

11 a.m. to noon

90 University Residence (90U)
Room: 151

September 27

11 a.m. to noon

90U, room 151

October 4

11 a.m. to noon

90U, room 151

WELLNESS CAFE

October 10

11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Jock-Turcot University Centre (UCU)

Room: Terminus

October 11

11 a.m. to noon

90U, room 151

October 18

Reading Week - No Session

October 25

11 a.m. to noon

90U, room 151

November 1

11 a.m. to noon

90U, room 151

November 8

11 a.m. to noon

90U, room 151

WELLNESS CAFE

November 13

11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

UCU, Terminus

November 15

11 a.m. to noon

90U, room 151

November 22

11 a.m. to noon

90U, room 151

November 29

11 a.m. to noon

90U, room 151

Roger-Guindon

Fall 2019

Date

Time

Room

September 23

noon to 1 p.m.

Roger-Guindon Hall (RGN)

Health Sciences Library (Room 1020)

September 30

noon to 1 p.m.

RGN, Health Sciences Library (Room 1020)

October 7

noon to 1 p.m.

RGN, Health Sciences Library (Room 1020)

October 14

Reading Week - No Session

October 21

noon to 1 p.m.

RGN, Health Sciences Library (Room 1020)

   
October 28

noon to 1 p.m.

RGN, Health Sciences Library (Room 1020)

November 4

noon to 1 p.m.

RGN, Health Sciences Library (Room 1020)

November 11

noon to 1 p.m.

RGN, Health Sciences Library (Room 1020)

November 18

noon to 1 p.m.

RGN, Health Sciences Library (Room 1020)

November 25

noon to 1 p.m.

RGN, Health Sciences Library (Room 1020)

December 2

noon to 1 p.m.

RGN, Health Sciences Library (Room 1020)
December 9

noon to 1 p.m.

RGN, Health Sciences Library (Room 1020)    

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

How do I participate in a pet therapy activity?

Pet therapy generally happens on a weekly basis on both main campus and Roger-Guindon campus during the Fall and Winter semesters (except Reading Week, statutory holidays and the exam period), plus on a few special occasions (special events, Wellness Week, etc.). The schedule is available above.

Just show up! It’s free! Participation works on a “first come, first served” basis.

Is pet therapy only for students or can employees take part as well?

Any member of the uOttawa community can come spend time with our therapy dogs, whether they are employees or students.

What are pet therapy dogs?

Pet therapy dogs are not service dogs or animal-assisted therapy dogs. They are dogs certified by volunteer organizations, who visit various locations in their community, such as campuses, hospitals, and nursing homes, and help to improve their occupants' wellness.

The key organizations with which we partner to provide pet therapy on our campus are:

Therapy dogs are generally of a calm and loving nature, are well-mannered and have been adequately socialized (i.e. they react well to new things). They go through a behavioural assessment along with their human handler in order to ensure they are suitable to take part in pet therapy visits.

What are the benefits of participating in pet therapy?

Pet therapy can have a beneficial impact on both mental and physical health. Studies have shown that a friendly interaction with an animal (e.g. petting) helps, among other things, lower blood pressure, reduce overall pain, and ease feelings of loneliness, anxiety and depression. It can be useful to have therapy pets available for students throughout the term to help with their wellbeing.

How can my dog become a therapy dog and visit the uOttawa campus as part of the pet therapy program?

uOttawa does not have its own pet therapy program. The volunteer dog and handler teams who visit our campuses come through a partnership with the following key organizations:

If you’re interested in becoming a dog and handler volunteer team for uOttawa pet therapy activities, we advise you to contact one of the above organizations to inquire about evaluation and certification.

We encourage you in this endeavour! There is great demand for pet therapy in the community and it’s very rewarding work, for both the handlers and their pets.

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