KAMLOOPS — It's the first week of exams at Thompson Rivers University, a stressful time for students who are craming in as much studying as they can before the big test.
But on Thursday, students taking a break from their studies were greeted by a few four-legged friends, including six-year-old Max, who is a therapy dog.
He offers comfort and joy to these students who are now feeling more at ease, despite the fact studying is still on their mind.
"It's really nice, they're really cute and they just help me de-stress and put a smile on my face. I love dogs," said one student who dropped by after an exam to see the dogs.
Every Thursday during the semester, the St. John Ambulance therapy dogs greet students.
"I think it's great we can help out," said volunteer Lori Weissbrod, the owner of Max. "It de-stresses them. The students seem to just love the dogs here. They come all the time, not just during exam time but during regular classes, too."
But the comfort of a dog can be especially valuable during this time of year when stress around the university is at its peak.
Weissbrod rescued Max from Merritt more than five years ago, but his story has come full circle, helping others now, including his owner Lori, particularly last year when she was battling lymphoma.
"I know the dogs bring me joy," she noted. "When I was sick, I had to do radiation, and I know the dog makes you feel better, so when you're not feeling so well, we go around to hospitals, old folks homes, and TRU. It just makes you feel better and picks you up. Brightens your day."
Weissbrod takes great satisfaction in helping put the students at ease, and the students in turn appreciate dogs like Max and their calming presence.
The therapy dog program will return to TRU in the new year in time for next semester.
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