Dalhousie to open 'Puppy Room' for stressed students

These St. Bernard dogs will be heading to university next week.

Dalhousie University in Halifax is turning to some big, slobbery experts to help students deal with the stress of upcoming exams.

The student union is opening a Puppy Room on Tuesday where students can hang out with several dogs, including Roc, a St. Bernard who happens to be a therapy dog.

"They can come in and sit down, they can pat the dogs, talk to the dogs," said his owner, Mark Grant. "That's our hope – that the dogs will bring as much comfort to the individuals that we're going to meet as the individuals will bring to the dogs."

Roc will be joined by other dogs, including a Dalmatian and a golden retriever.

"A lot of the folks that we're going to have the pleasure of seeing probably have dogs back home. They miss their dogs, and just want to hug a dog," said Grant.

"These dogs will allow them to forget what they're doing for a few minutes. They'll just enjoy that friendship."

Dalhousie student Michael Kean pitched the idea after his friends who attend McGill in Montreal raved about a dog therapy program there.

"It's a great idea," he said. "There's no downfall about therapy dogs. Students, we're stressed out, don't know what to do, and they're fluffy. It comes down to that."

The idea was first pitched online and it received an instant reaction.

"We haven't printed a poster yet but it's been shared 1,600 times on Facebook," said Gavin Jardine of the Dalhousie Student Union.

With the overwhelming response, the student union quickly realized there may be lineups when doors open on Tuesday. The group has already come up with a way to expand the program.

"We're hoping to set up a partnership with the SPCA," said Jardine. "So they can walk dogs if they're sick of waiting in line."

"It's just a win-win on all fronts," said Kean, who is thrilled his suggestion is drawing such a response.