Bringing smiles to students with Therapy Dog Thursday

Come to Old Main to cozy with cute canines on Thursdays

Therapy Dog Thursday is a collaboration between the TRU Wellness Centre and St. John Ambulance. This event takes place on Student Street in Old Main every Thursday, allowing students to spend time with therapy dogs to alleviate stress and boost mood. 

Studies have shown that when individuals interact with domesticated animals, such as dogs, our bodies release beneficial chemicals.  

“When we interact with dogs, our oxytocin levels shoot up. Since this is the hormone largely responsible for social bonding, this hormonal ‘love injection’ boosts our psychological well-being,” said Maria Cohut in an article for Medical News Today. 

Students like Varsha Rao, an MBA student at TRU, testify to the efficacy of Therapy Dog Thursday. 

“I didn’t expect them to be so friendly. It was a nice way to destress, honestly,” Rao said. “Start off by just looking at them spinning around, and then eventually, you can get around to petting them and playing with them.”

“Therapy Dogs, with their genuine affection and friendly demeanour, have a remarkable way of brightening everyone’s day,” said Jeff Ross, a volunteer with St. John Ambulance. “Many students who had to part with their beloved dogs upon arriving here find solace in connecting with therapy dogs. Attending the therapy dog sessions on Thursdays can offer a highly therapeutic and reassuring experience.”

Before interacting with the public, all volunteers, human and canine alike, undergo training and evaluation. The process involves submitting a criminal records check, attending an orientation session, and undergoing an evaluation of both the handler’s and the dog’s capabilities. 

Furthermore, dogs should be a minimum of one year old, with a preference for two years in most breeds, and should have already lived in a permanent home for at least six months. The evaluation within the Therapy Dog Program assesses handlers and their canine companions in diverse situations to gauge their temperament, sociability and responsiveness to the handler’s guidance. 

The dogs are also evaluated for their cleanliness and grooming standards.

To alleviate stress and to boost your mood, students can cuddle the adorable little ambassadors every Thursday on Student Street between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. For additional information regarding resources and opportunities, visit