Canine comfort part of caring for engineering students

Clinical therapist Giselle St. Louis and Winnie the therapy dog

Having a ruff day? Therapist Giselle St. Louis and therapy dog Winnie are here to help.

Clinical therapist Giselle St. Louis has a new partner in Windsor Engineering’s wellness office, helping engineering students with mental health and wellness — Winnie the therapy dog.

A labradoodle, cross-bred between a Labrador retriever and a poodle, Winnie comes by her good looks naturally, but had earned her therapy credentials the old-fashioned way, completing a rigorous six-month training program at Mindfulness Therapy Dogs in Pinckney, Michigan.

Research has shown that petting a dog lowers the stress hormone cortisol while the interaction between a dog and a human increases levels of oxytocin, the feel-good hormone.

“Academics, relationship conflict, and in some cases social and cultural change, are factors in the amount of stress a student may encounter during the school year,” says St. Louis. “The ability to cope and manage stress and anxiety are critical in the student’s academic success. Winnie’s presence supports the nervous system, allowing it to relax, which makes therapy more effective.”

Meet-and-greet “Wednesdays with Winnie” sessions start July 27 and will run 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the student support services room 1160, Centre for Engineering Innovation.

To schedule a session with Winnie and St. Louis, or to learn more about the faculty’s counselling services, visit

And by the way, doggie treats are not necessary. Winnie is well cared for.

—Gam Macasaet