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Canisius student Leah Simmons photo shopped a picture of herself and her (virtual) dog, Halford, in the park.

Melissa Wanzer, EdD, is using some (virtual) creativity to help students in her Health Communication class cope in these confusing times … and she’s doing it with a little help from Canisius President John Hurley.

During a recent class group chat, students suggested that “if the college gave them each a dog, it would help with their stress levels,” says Wanzer. After some serious consideration, Wanzer pitched the idea of a fun pilot program to students; one aimed at both engaging students and determining the effects (virtual) dogs could have on student health.

Students responded to the idea with great enthusiasm and confidently suggested that “If each student received a free dog from the college, they would report less stress – and get 4.0 GPAs,” explains Wanzer.

Griff Dogs was launched and the first request for a pet pooch went to none other than Canisius President John Hurley. Always a good sport, President Hurley responded, sending each student in Wanzer’s class their own virtual dog.

“Canisius already has emotional support animals on campus so sending them off campus to our students at this time seems like a logical next step,” wrote President Hurley in a letter to Wanzer’s students.

Since then, students have “named their dogs” and share “updates” about them with their classmates.

“I just felt like the students needed some levity,” explains Wanzer about her idea for Griff Dogs. “They are a bit overwhelmed and so this is something light that they can run with.”

Below are pictures of the virtual dogs President Hurley sent to Wanzer’s students.

Submitted by: College Communications