Saluting our PAWSS dogs on National Pet Day

April 11, 2019 | Campus Life


When I would sit down to write an exam, I’d get this wave of panic. I couldn’t push through it, and sometimes it would turn into a full breakdown.

I was talking to one of my nursing profs about it and she suggested that maybe we could try having a dog in the room. Her dog, Gizmo, had been in the classroom during one of my first-year nursing courses and I liked having him around. There was a subtle change – it just felt more positive and less stressful with him there. Still, I was a bit skeptical about whether having him in the exam with me would help with my anxiety.

I wrote the exam in a small office space with Gizmo and Andrea Chute, my prof who volunteered to monitor the exam. I was stressed right from the start and I think Gizmo picked up on that. For the next two-and-a-half hours, whenever I started feeling anxious, he would come over to me, I’d pet him and I could feel myself calming down. Then I’d keep writing for a bit and he’d chill for a bit. It felt like we bonded over my anxiety.

It was absolutely incredible. I was shocked at the difference it made – I have never felt so confident or calm while writing an exam.

I still have exam anxiety, but I’ve learned better study habits since then and I feel more prepared now. I haven’t written an exam with a PAWSS dog since, but I still volunteer with all the dogs on Fridays at the PAWSS drop-in sessions. I love it. Visiting with the dogs is such a healthy outlet. I think I’d be a lot more stressed without them.

–Taylor, 2nd year student, Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Today is National Pet Day. Thanks to each and every one of MacEwan University’s Pets Assisting with Student Success (PAWSS) dogs, including Grace who is pictured here with Taylor.

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