Take a Paws – Therapy Dog Event Reflection

Milo, a therapy dog, smiling and wagging his tail at the camera

Written by Innovation Hub Community Animators and Design Researchers Alan, Anunita, Jenny, Rayna, Ramzy, and Delphine. 

Relieving stress and community bonding are important parts of maintaining healthy mental and physical wellbeing. In December, the Innovation Hub held an event featuring Sunshine Therapy Dogs. Students bonded with canine friends Milo, Tasman, and Flurry as they prepared for final exams. 

Therapy Dogs at the Innovation Hub  

In December, the Innovation Hub collaborated with Sunshine Therapy Dogs, a Toronto-based charity which invites therapy dogs to support and aid the well-being of all ages in the community. Students at the iHub and broader university circle had the opportunity to connect with  furry friends, Milo, Tasman, and Flurry, just before the winter exam period. Hosted by the Innovation Hub Community Animation Team, the event allowed students to meet therapy dogs, create stress balls, and participate in icebreakers with other students to pause and de-stress together. We welcomed over 100 students into our wonderful space to participate in this event.

Pausing to Find Joy 

Tasman, a therapy dog, surrounded by a group of attendees as he receives ear-rubs.

As University of Toronto students we are surrounded by the bustle of Toronto’s downtown core. We recognize how important it is to take a moment to ourselves – for our well-being, reflecting on how far we’ve come, or recharging for whatever will come next. Therapy dogs for us was a moment to pause, take a break, and find joy in the midst of deadlines and responsibilities.  

“The happiness and smiles on students who joined the event showed the positive impact dogs can have on our lives. Dogs provide us with so much joy and love that they help reduce stress. As a university student, this event helped reduce my stress and anxiety regarding my university exams. I am grateful that this event could happen on the university campus.” – Anunita Wazir 

“It’s easy to forget that many university students are young adults who are still trying to figure it all out. Providing them with the ability to slow down and see them filled with joy was one of the key moments to the event for us.” – Alan Sivabalan 

Home Sweet Home

A photo of therapy dogs Tasman (sitting) and Flurry

Facilitating the stress-relieving therapy dogs activity was very rewarding: the event resonated with many students, especially those who have furry friends of their own, and encouraged socialization in a natural, easygoing setting. It was like inviting a piece of home – Milo, Tasman, and Flurry lifted everyone’s spirits. 

“As a dog lover, I had a wonderful time helping facilitate this event. I have a little baby golden retriever waiting for me back home, so the joy I had experienced with these therapy dogs was immense. Seeing the impact these dogs had on all the students coming in, especially knowing how stressful that time of year is on my peers, was heartwarming. – Ramzy Bakr 

Future Community Events 

A photo of therapy dog Milo being petted by attendees with his owner on a seat beside him.

The therapy dog event reminded us of the importance of giving back to the community. It was a privilege to connect with the volunteers and witness the positive impact that therapy dogs can have on people’s lives, and it has left us feeling grateful and motivated to find ways to make a positive difference. The Therapy Dogs event was the first of many future events to animate our wonderful co-working space at 230 College St. We are excited to  invite the U of T community to experience a glimpse into our work and bring more initiatives for the university to enjoy!

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