A dog a day keeps the stress away

by | Feb 13, 2020 | News

Emily Wilson, News Reporter

Second-semester blues is something every student goes through. It’s dark and gloomy, making it hard to focus on homework and studies.

There are many services students can use at Humber to relieve stress but one comes with a lot more fun.

Percy, a loveable golden retriever, is the school’s therapy dog. His mom Melanie Shulman, a paralegal professor at Humber College, has been bringing Percy to school every week for more than four years.

“He’s my baby and I love him so much, so to see other people love him too is amazing,” she said. “He brings so much happiness wherever he goes.”

Shulman said Percy passed his St. John’s Ambulance test in November 2015, which consisted of obedience, rooms of loud people, banging pots and more.

Most dogs assessed for the program are often older, around three years old, but Percy was a year-and-a-half, proving the level of his temperament is consistently very calm.

“He’s a bit of a prodigy,” Shulman joked.

Raquelle Loayza, in the justice studies program at the University of Guelph-Humber, said she came to see Percy after having a tough day at school.

“Just petting him and sitting there felt like a relief,” Loayza said.

After her first visit with Percy she plans to see him as much as she can, “especially later during exams,” the 18-year-old said.

Percy doesn’t just relieve school stress among students. He helps people through many long years of fearing dogs.

“I’ve had students in my class who have fear of dogs and it’s always been okay,” Shulman said.

She said many students go from refusing to be around dogs to petting Percy, much like Priyanka Gusain’s mother, who she brought to Humber just to meet Percy.

Rajni Gusain has been afraid of dogs most of her life and after a long time eventually was comfortable enough to be around them

When Rajni met Percy she said his calmness helped her become at ease near him. It was the first time she ever touched a dog.

“I’m not scared now,” she said with a wide smile. “I feel really good.”

Pryianka, a nursing student at the University of New Brunswick at Humber, said how amazing it was to see her mother with a dog.

“It’s one more step to her being fully comfortable,” she said.

Percy has many other jobs outside of the school. He goes to a long-term care facility, works with kids who have disabilities, and a treatment centre to help adults with intellectual disabilities.

Shulman said Percy has recently started going to courtrooms as a therapy dog.

“He sits with a witness while they’re testifying, usually it’s a victim in a case,” she said.

Off duty Percy’s favourite activity is swimming. “I have not found a limit on how much he could swim,” Shulman said.

And he also very much enjoys chasing squirrels.