Campus Snapshots: BARK study’s de-stressing dogs & SLC gives UBCO a good rep

November 21st, 2013

B.A.R.K. study lets the dogs out

Ellie, a parapalegic husky rescued from the puppy mill, was the sweetest, calmest, dog in the room when we arrived at the B.A.R.K. drop-in.

Ellie’s not alone; the study currently uses 34 trained dogs from the community to study their effects on stress, and to allow students to drop-in weekly to spend time with the dogs.

“It’s really targeting these kids who are from far away…living on residence and feeling disconnected,” said Dr. Ty Binfet, the leader of the program, “it provides a sense of grounding.”

The most common feedback has been that it “feels like home.” Binfet says they’ve tried to establish a really warm environment for the drop-ins. Treats are provided, and the dogs are always ready to show love. “The dogs give this unconditional positive regard that does wonders for ones well-being.”

The program is now in year two, and provided Binfet continues to get funding he would like to continue the study and drop-in. The current funding is from Ian Cull at the AVP of Students office.

“It’s really unique and special,” said Binfet, “Other campuses will mess around with this kind of stuff but they do episodic things where they bring dogs in just at exame time. As far as we know we are the only incorporated programs on an ongoing basis.”

The dogs come from the community and the B.A.R.K. study certifies them independently. “These are people in the community who want to connect with students and do something good – so these are household dogs.” They currently have 34 different dogs in the program.

The drop-in is in EME 1123 from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m Friday., and the study runs four and a half hours per week, but it’s already full and students are signing on to be on the waitlist.

“This is progressive work,” said Binfet, who laughed at imagining some pretty reluctant responses if a professor were to want to bring 34 dogs on campus. “We’re in a place where creative and different research is welcome, and students should know that.”

B.A.R.K. stands for “Building Academic Retention through K9s.” Learn more about the program at

Student Leadership Conference gives good rep to Kelowna and UBCO

A negative sentiment could not be heard at the November 2 Student Leadership conference.

Even the day’s rain did not dampen spirits. Several visiting delegates from UBC’s Vancouver campus said it made the event feel like their coastal city. The SLC gave  Vancouver visitors the chance to become acquainted with the UBCO Campus.

One of UBC’s senior engineering students, Ryan Hirakida, when asked about the campus, gave a very positive reaction, stating that the “space is really nice. It’s really new” (many other Van delegates shard this sentiment, characterizing the UBCO campus as very approachable). The SLC also played host to highschool students looking to integrate themselves into the world of University student leadership. One Kelowna Secondary student, Aya Costa, said that “everyone’s really inviting, [the atmosphere] is very homey”.

The conference allowed all students, visiting or not, to become acquainted with new and helpful ideals about what it means to be a leader at university. The opening ceremony of the conference saw several magnetic speakers such as AVP of students, Ian Cull, and keynote address Crystal Flaman. Flaman is a social entrepreneur and athlete, who shared with the audience her ideas about leadership. After the address, Flaman was kind enough to give The Phoenix some of her time. When asked what students would ideally take away from the conference as a whole, Flaman responded that “my biggest hope would be that we all have the capacity to just be ourselves, and share the best of us.” Flaman was on campus approximately a year ago and called the campus “beautiful”. Moreover, she was impressed with the student attitudes, stating that “I think the group is amazing”.

The rest of the conference was made up of seminars lead by student leaders on campus (including the Student Union’s own Services Coordinator Nick Dodds) who emphasized the importance of positive attitudes, managing time effectively, and taking time for oneself to de-stress.

The conference was truly a success, neither Flaman or the staff advisor for the SLC in Vancouver reported any glitches with planning or coordination. At the end of the conference, Ryan Hirakida, when asked, said that he would come back to an SLC hosted by UBCO in the future. “I get a good vibe,” said Hirakida.



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