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Student News

Dog attends graduation to help owner with anxiety

There was a special guest at a graduation ceremony last week - a dog called Boris, sporting his own graduation hat!

Boris the dog graduationCredit: Reading University

The pawsitively adorable springer poodle Boris attended a graduation at the University of Reading last week to help combat his owner’s anxiety, allowing her to attend her sister’s graduation.

19 year old Hollie Evans (and Boris) were there with parents Ali and Deren to see Arts graduate Daisy pick up her degree on Friday 7th July, in the Great Hall at Reading Uni’s London Road campus.

This feat was not easy for Hollie, who has not been able to attend a family outing in nearly five years due to her chronic anxiety. At the peak of her anxiety, Hollie could not speak for two years - but luckily her health has improved tenfold since Boris came into her life 4 years ago.

Hollie and Daisy’s mum Ali said:

Everyone at the University has been very kind. When I emailed explaining the situation, I didn’t think it would be possible to bring Boris, but they said he was very welcome to come. It has made this a special day for Daisy and all our family.

Boris looked smart wearing his own graduation mortar-board, and helped to ensure that all of the family were together for a very special day. Well done Reading for making the day possible, so Hollie had some furry comfort when she needed it most!

Other graduation day doggies

Pets play an extremely important part in a lot of people’s lives - and sometimes owners feel it’s only fair that their 4 legged furry family members attend graduations.

Last month, The Scottish Sun published a piece on golden retriever Loki, who was there for his owner Alisa McRae’s graduation at the University of Glasgow.

The pooch, who was also at Alisa’s fiance Nat Quail’s graduation last year, was not allowed to attend the actual graduation ceremony, but was waiting outside for her afterwards. Loki was also sporting his own mortar-board, just like Boris!

We also reported last year that cocker spaniel Fudge attended owner Jack’s graduation at Edinburgh Napier Uni - complete with matching grad robes. Jack thought it was only fair that Fudge graduate too, as his waggly mate helped him get through uni, and even featured in Jack’s coursework. Aww!

Can your mental health be improved by a pet?

Hollie isn’t the only one to find that her mental health has been improved by having a pet. They’re cute, cuddly, unable to judge you and can amuse you with their silly antics. They can help you when you’re feeling low or alone, and some seem to have the uncanny ability to know when you need them.

Some pets - called therapy pets - go one step further. They’re trained to help and support those in need.

A few days ago, America’s Transportation Security Administration posted a picture on Instagram of a nervous airline passenger’s therapy duck. ‘Puppy rooms’ have been trialled at unis, such as at the University of Central Lancaster. There was even a heart-warming story a few days ago about a team of therapy dogs in Washington, USA who visit patients in hospitals, provide support to worried family members and give children something to smile about.

Problem is, not everyone agrees. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) are drawing up guidelines to allow pets into hospitals to help patient recovery, with nine out of ten nurses surveyed believing that animals aid mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety.

Yale Doctoral student Molly Crossman disagrees. In her article “Effects of Interactions with Animals on Human Psychological Distress”, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, she found that animals provide a “small to medium” effect on people’s well-beings, but more studies are needed to find out if this is down to animals, or if other factors are in play.

More studies are needed to see if animals can provide long-term health benefits, but one thing is for certain - animals certainly make people happy, and can drastically improve the lives of their owners.


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