‘Doggy De-stress Day’ attracts 1,300 students

Warwick University hosted a ‘Doggy De-stress Day’ in the Students’ Union (SU) building on Thursday 19 February to raise money and awareness for Guide Dogs UK.

Students were given the chance to pet guide dog puppies within allocated time slots after paying a £1 donation to the charity. The event, which was hosted by a number of organisations including the Warwick Raising and Giving society (RAG), The Lloyd’s Scholars and Warwick SU as well as Guide Dogs UK, took place between 11am and 3pm in the Atrium.

The charity already has affiliations with The Lloyd’s Scholars, but the idea for this event was initially conceived after RAG Vice President, Shannon Taggart, had a discussion with Liz Gilbert, the Community Fund Raiser for the charity’s Leamington Branch.

Discussing the choice, Ms Taggart said: “I love the guide dogs charity personally, and sponsor a puppy myself, so was keen to work with the charity – we talked about possible fund raisers and this seemed like the best option (which it has proved to be!). It’s been a great team effort.”

Doggy destress day 2

Photo: Yasmin Khanom

Students were gathered in the Atrium waiting for their names to be called out so they could enter in small groups.

The organisers had also set up an attraction in the Atrium called the ‘sensory tunnel’, through which any passing or waiting students could walk with their eyes covered, in order to simulate the effects of blindness. Nearby, a stall was raising further funds by selling merchandise related to guide dogs.

To get into the event, students had to sign up online beforehand, after which successful applicants received emails confirming their allocation. Overall, 350 slots were handed out.

The area continued to be busy throughout the day, with extra students coming in to see what was going on.

Yasmin Khanom, one of the students who had organised and volunteered at the event, was pleased with the number of people who turned up. She stated: “[I’ve] never seen the Atrium this busy before.”

Jenny Wheeler, disabled students’ officer at the SU and fellow event organiser, added: “I just want to say from a personal point of view that I really enjoyed today and all of the hard work that went into it definitely paid off!”

The event attracted even more interest on social media. By the time the event had actually started, the Facebook page for the event had 1.9k people saying that they were going to attend.

According to Ms Taggart, when they released the pre-booking form, her “screen was running with names immediately and we had hit our quota by 12.01 – overall there were more than 1,300 people who submitted an entry by 12.15”.

As a result of the event’s excessive popularity, many students were unable to get a place.

Nevertheless, there was still an opportunity to get in on the day by entering a raffle system, as Ms Khanom, an undergraduate Chemistry student noted: “We’ve had even more people coming in, including those who didn’t manage to get a booking, thanks to the raffle system.”

First-year Philosophy student Rachel Hamilton, who attended the event along with some of her flatmates, said: “it was so lovely to be with the dogs – especially as we don’t see animals often on campus… and it was very interesting to talk to the dogs’ owners. The dogs do such an amazing job!”

Photo: Georgina Miklosz

Photo: Georgina Miklosz

Indeed, Ms Taggart was pleased with the way that the event has been received: “The response from students has been overwhelming, it’s been incredible to watch the excitement for the event grow – there is even talk for putting together a Guide Dogs Society on campus. Since we put the event out on Facebook, there have even been people I don’t know coming up to me and talking about how great the event is.”

When asked about the possibility of the dogs’ return, Ms Taggart was unable to give a definite answer, but remained confident about the possibility: “The event is only potentially returning in Week 10 of Term 3, nothing has been finalised yet… however, it is looking promising, so you can expect to see more of us in the future!”

Ms Wheeler added: “I hope that it will be the start of a very positive relationship with the Guide Dogs Centre in Leamington. The interest shown today was phenomenal.”


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