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Kelly O’Donnell has become best friends with a surprising number of dogs, considering she has yet to call one her own.
O’Donnell was raised in a family without canine pets as her father was allergic to the animals.
Yet, it didn’t keep O’Donnell from becoming chums with neighbourhood mutts.
Sitting on the floor on Student Street at Thompson Rivers University on a winter Thursday afternoon, the adventure-tourism student has just met her newest four-legged friend — a St. John Ambulance therapy dog named Ivory.
Dog tired (pun intended) after countless students’ hands reaching out to pet her snow-white coat, the nine-year-old English lab decides it is time for a break from the action — and finds the perfect spot to take a cat nap.
Just weeks earlier, during Christmas break, O’Donnell returned to Edmonton, where she visited with friends and their dogs, going for walks with each of them.
Now, stroking the soft ears of a snoozing pooch at TRU, O’Donnell loves each moment.
She smiles as she looks up from the furry face plunked firmly on her lap.
“I’d love to have a job like this,” she says, “laying around and having people pet me.”
Fostering positive feelings within students is the goal of TRU Wellness Centre’s Therapy Thursdays.
The idea came about from a TRU staff member and animal lover and brought about a connection with the successful St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog program.
“It wasn’t hard to see the immediate benefits to our students on campus,” says TRU Wellness co-ordinator Chelsea Corsi. “Improving students’ moods, increasing spirits and reducing stress during midterms is the sole purpose of the dogs’ visits.”
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Thursday until April 11, students can cuddle and pet a therapy dog at the TRU Wellness Centre’s Therapy Thursdays: For the Love of a Dog.