In what could be the most unimaginable act, a US university has hired a ‘professor‘ to provide comfort to stressed students and the new faculty member is no renowned academic but a 2-year-old dog.
The University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles has hired a Goldendoodle named Professor Beauregard Tirebiter, according to USC News, a university news site run by USC’s communications team.
He resides on the second floor of the university’s student health centre, where he provides affection and comfort to stressed students as a wellness dog, USC News wrote. He even has office hours, a uniform and business cards — though he has “trouble handing out the latter”.
The hope is that Professor Tirebiter will help create a sense of community on campus, in addition to providing therapeutic companionship, said Paula Lee Swinford, director of the Office of Wellness and Health Promotion at USC.
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“We wanted to do something that would change our culture,” Swinford was quoted as saying.
Research suggests that positive interactions with dogs can create a sense of calm and well-being, said Olga Solomon, an assistant professor at the USC.
Petting a therapy dog can increase serotonin, beta- endorphin and oxytocin — chemicals and hormones that make people happy — and decrease cortisol, a stress hormone, Solomon said.
For now, Professor Tirebiter is learning to get comfortable all over campus, in addition to some tricks, said Amanda Vanni, his handler, who is also a health promotion specialist at USC’s student health centre.
“I’m teaching him how to do a ‘Fight on’ right now,” she said, referring to the school’s official fight song. “we’re working on a paw out in the air,” she said.
(With PTI inputs)