For the past couple of years, the terrors of exam time have been mediated with the Pacific Animal Therapy Society (PATS), the UVSS’s De-Stress Week campaign puppy playtime. Now, De-Stress Week organizers are teaming up with local chapters of animal rescue shelters to combat an even bigger source of stress: graduation.
The plan is to give students the opportunity to replace their degrees at the time of graduation with an aging dog. The hope is to negate the pressure of entering the workforce with little to no real prospective career choices by having a dog to pet.
“To be frank,” says Shirley Puggsly, a senior volunteer at the SPCA, “most of these kids are realizing their hard-earned degrees are worthless, and so this stresses them out. Why not cut their losses and have a dog to help cope with that stress?”
The dogs in question—if the proposition makes it past the Board of Governors (BoG)—are all in the final stages of their lives. They are trained but in need of a home and some attention. What’s more, the students are provided with leashes, dog beds, and six months of dog food to help them get started.
“The food and leashes assistance are a must for this arrangement to work,” says Puggsly. “What’s stopping a grad from just picking up a dog on their own? There has to be some incentive to give up their degrees and make the proactive choice to ultimately improve their quality of life.”
It clears up room at the shelter for us, and gives those kids some purpose. I see it as a real win-win: the student’s dream of a fulfilling job and the old dogs can both die with dignity” says Puggsly. Others, however, are not as impressed.
“These young adults can barely remember to feed themselves, so how can they expect to take care of a dog?” says Bruce Keepstef, spokesperson for Vancouver Island Animals Greater Respect Authorities (VIAGRA). Keepstef points out that the expenses alone would likely be too much for the new grads, and that the time commitment wouldn’t make things easier.
Despite Keepstef and VIAGRA’s hard stance on the subject, members of the BoG are beginning to soften to the idea. “No one is saying this has to mandatory,” says Lucy Feelbern. “Engineers for example won’t need to even consider adopting a dog to help with stress, but a good deal of humanities students whose grades would make it hard for them to seek a graduate program could find the program extremely helpful.”
“You can attend all the job seminars you want to try and alleviate the pressure, but this seems to be the best idea I’ve heard to really help with new grad’s stress levels.”
While the proposition still has a long way to go before it could become reality, many are interested in seeing if these old dogs can teach these grads some new tricks. As Puggsly put it, “I think they can learn more from a dog than they ever could from courses like A Cultural History of Vampires in Literature and Film.”