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'You can't be angry around a dog,' teens welcome four-legged study buddies

The Collingwood Public Library is bringing in therapy dogs for exam study sessions starting at 3:30 p.m. this week
Enzo joins a group of students preparing for final exams. Erika Engel/CollingwoodToday

Local high school students studying for exams at Collingwood Public Library this week will get some help from an unlikely source.

There will be dogs at the library today and tomorrow after school. Specifically, they are therapy dogs qualified to decrease stress and anxiety, and generally bring a smile to an otherwise serious face.

Enzo the red Standard Poodle, was working the study room yesterday (Jan. 22), making rounds to the various tables where students huddled over notes, books, and computer screens in preparation for this semester’s final exams.

Enzo is tall and long, and makes no sudden moves. He slid in between two chairs and waited quietly for a student to pat his head.

Nahanni Stahr, a Grade 12 student at Collingwood Collegiate Institute enjoyed her first canine-accompanied study session.

“It’s way better than studying alone,” she said. “It’s less stress. You can’t be angry around a dog.”

Katelyn Bernath, teen services and outreach coordinator at Collingwood Public Library, said this is the second year she’s brought in therapy dogs during exam crunch time.

“I noticed a lot of teens here studying, and I remember how stressful it was during my exams at university,” she said.

She called Georgian Triangle Humane Society, and the staff there helped connect the library with a therapy dog.

“Something about pets and libraries seems to go together,” said Bernath.

Enzo is a veteran therapy dog, having worked at Sick Kid’s hospital for about five years.

His owners Ron Mitchell and Virginia Mantycki, had him certified first as an adult therapy dog, then as a child therapy dog, and finally for work at Sick Kid’s. Mantycki took him to the children’s hospital once a week for five years.

“He loved it,” said Mitchell. “He knew his way around.”

He became a familiar face for patients and doctors. In fact, during a meeting to organize one child’s Sick Kid’s care team, a lead doctor suggested the child get regular visits from “the big poodle.”

As a therapy dog, Enzo is required to be “unflappable,” or “bomb proof,” said Mitchell.

When he arrives to work, he’ll circulate and visit with each person in the room, sometimes leaning up against them with a reassuring calm demeanour. And he won’t turn down a pat or two.

There will be a therapy dog at the library at 3:30 today (Jan. 23) and tomorrow (Jan. 24) at 3:30 p.m.

Bernath has also booked extra study space for students as they prepare for exams. She said the dogs will return in June for the second semester exam season.

The therapy dogs will be back on Jan. 27 for family literacy day. Kids will be able to read stories to the therapy dogs, and interact with them while they visit the library and try some of the activities planned for the day. For a list of literacy day events at the library, click here.

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Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter and editor. She has 15 years of experience as a local journalist
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