Sizzle, a three-year-old Papillon, is one of the 52 dogs that participate in the university’s Pets Assisting With Student Success (PAWSS) program.

The PAWSS dog days of summer

August 27, 2019 | Campus Life

Students, faculty and staff aren’t the only ones gearing up for a new academic year – the 52 dogs (and one cat) that make up MacEwan University’s Pets Assisting With Student Success (PAWSS) program are too.

For the last two years, PAWSS animals have been offering social and emotional support for students in several settings, and making appearances at university events including Late Night at the Library, Open House and the Pride Parade.

In 2018/19 alone, the program’s 36 handlers and 12 student volunteers clocked almost 1,400 hours and 3,000 visits with students – many of them at the PAWSS Friday drop-in sessions. This year there are two Friday drop-in locations: 7-146 and 9-218. Stop by anytime between 4:30 and 6 p.m.

“All students are welcome and we guarantee a PAWSS-itive experience,” says Andrea Chute, director of PAWSS, with a laugh. “We are so excited to be starting up again on September 20 and thankful for the students who come out to spend time with our dogs.”

PAWSS dogs also make their way into classrooms and workspaces across campus. Thirteen wellness dogs join their handlers at work including Lucy, a purple-eared pup who is a regular in the Faculty of Nursing’s Clinical Simulation Centre, (if you haven’t read Lucy’s story yet, you really should), and four dogs make regular appearances in nursing classrooms where students say the dogs help increase their focus and reduce stress and anxiety.

This year PAWSS is aiming to continue expanding its student volunteer team, its handler teams, its connections to the community outside MacEwan, and scholarly activity and research tied to the program.

Check out for events throughout the term, and keep tabs on the PAWSS dogs you’ll likely cross paths with in the coming months on Instagram @pawssmacewan. Here are just of them:


Rumor is a seven-year-old greyhound. She’s happy and well-adjusted, but she’s also the BOSS. And her brother, Ranger (also a PAWSS dog), knows it.
Ranger is a seven-year-old greyhound. He’s pretty laid back and lazy. He knows his sister Rumor is the boss.
You might not recognize Gracie if you saw her standing right in front of you. Belly rubs are her passion, so you’ll almost always find her belly-up at PAWSS events.
Sizzle, the three-year-old Papillon, is a perky PAWSS dog. She loves to entertain students and show off her tricks and talents, including ringing a bell on command.
Everybody loves Lucy. This compassionate purple-eared PAWSS pup is known for sniffing out people who need help.

Zoey is a two-year-old Chorkie mix. Often referred to as "Sweet Zoey,” she loves to cuddle and has perfected the “play dead” trick.
Jaxson, a seven-year-old Shih Tzu mix, loves attention and always arrives at PAWSS events dressed to the nines – his colourful and dapper ties often coordinate with the season.
Ajax is a calm dude. He loves having his head and chin scratched, but don’t expect him to jump up and down over it. His favourite pastime is fetch – he can chase a ball for hours – and his ears perk up every time he senses the car ride he’s on will end at a camping spot.

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