The two therapy dogs have been deployed to Highbury College to help support students who may have mental health issues related to stress and anxiety, as well as developing young people’s confidence with animals.
While the resident doggy duo are there to ‘support all students at the college’ they have initially been introduced to youngsters who have specific learning needs.
Independent life-skills student, Ella Moss, 18, said: ‘I loved meeting the dogs who were beautiful and I think they will be a help to students.
‘I can sometimes get anxious and patting the dogs really helped me relax.’
Foundation prospects student, Lily Scott, 22, added: ‘It’s been amazing to meet the dogs and I will now look forward to seeing them each day I come into college.’
Amber, two, and Vodka, seven, are believed to be the first Pets as Therapy dogs to be deployed to work in one of the city’s colleges.
The four legged duo will visit the college every Thursday and Friday but can also be booked for sessions on other days.
One of the key roles will be to help students remain calm before examinations.
Vodka’s owner and college representative, Liz Cruz, said: ‘This initiative is all about supporting the health and wellbeing of all our students and staff.
‘The dogs will be in before examinations and can help students to relax and feel less stressed.
‘Amber and Vodka will also be working with the children at our nursery.’
Liz added: ‘Staff can book out Vodka or Amber and can even take them for a nice relaxing walk.’
Workplace employability student, Dean Roberts, 22, added: ‘I think it’s a great idea. I always get nervous before exams and seeing the dogs will help keep me calm.’
However it’s not just the students who will benefit from the calming influence of the fury friends.
Amber’s owner and health and social care lecturer, Sue Ward, said: ‘The dogs are also here to help staff.
‘Teaching can be a stressful job and five minutes away from your desk to interact with Amber can make a real difference.’
The college hopes to expand the programme by welcoming on board a further three dogs. To qualify for the initiative the dogs need to have their temperament assessed by the Pets as Therapy charity.