Newnham finalists get chance to ‘pet a pup’ to combat exam stress

A student with a visiting trainee guide dog

Students at Newnham College had a special break from revision this week as trainee guide dogs were brought in to aid relaxation during exam term.

It is the second time that the women’s college at the heart of the University of Cambridge has offered the ‘pet a pup’ sessions to students and it is so popular that the invitation had to be limited to people in their final year and graduate students.

Two trainee guide dogs, Teri and Una, were joined by black labrador Frizz, a retired guide dog, at the oversubscribed session. The dogs got a valuable chance to socialise and the number of people allowed in the room was limited and each slot lasted 15 minutes, around 70 students came to meet the friendly canines over the course of the afternoon.

Vicky Argent, Tutorial Office Manager and organiser of the event, said: “This is a great way to alleviate exam stress and there have been lots of studies which show how calming it is to be around animals. Many of our students have pets at home and miss them so it was a lovely opportunity for them to come and pet a pup at College.”

It costs more than £54,000 to train and look after a guide dog from birth to retirement according to Guide Dogs, the charity which brought the trio of dogs to Newnham College in return for a donation.

Sarah McCullagh, 22, an MML finalist who came along to the session with her friend Izzy Sabini, said: “It has been a great way to destress as we are all busy revising for our exams now. The dogs are so cute and it has been so much fun to play with them.”