BY LAURA MCFADZEAN
Monash Law Students’ Society (LSS) has revised its agreement with the owners of two therapy dogs, Boof and Kaz, to ensure the faculty’s furry friends can continue their Clayton campus visits.
The LSS previously contracted the therapy dog volunteers through the non-profit organisation Delta Society Australia, however the contract ended mid-April.
Instead, a direct partnership between LSS and the therapy dog owners, Ian and Mary Tredinnick, was announced on Facebook on April 26, with dog-loving students posting comments of their relief.
During usual on-campus semesters, the therapy dogs and their owners volunteer their time to greet students around and inside the Clayton Law building on a weekly basis, giving students valuable time out from studying.
LSS health and wellbeing officer Andrea Franco said the two Maremma sheepdogs were important for the health and wellbeing of law students.
“Law students have a high prevalence of stress and anxiety, we’re all perfectionists, all work very hard and have a lot of things on our plate at once,” Ms Franco said.
“We do benefit a lot to having therapy dogs even if it's just to relieve general stresses [that are] not uni related.”
Ms Franco said the new agreement allowed Ian and Mary to maintain Boof and Kaz’s online presence for the remainder of semester one through their virtual visits via Facebook group Monash Stalkerspace.
“It does help students when they're particularly stressed and they go through their social media and see some wholesome dogs,” Ms Franco added.
Ian and Mary usually visit the Clayton Law Library with the therapy dogs weekly on Thursdays, however they have been unable to do that since the introduction of COVID-19 social distancing rules.
Kaz and Boof were both adopted from Maremma Rescue Victoria at the ages of two years and 15 months respectively.
Boof was originally rehomed with a couple who had a two year old toddler, but having him was “too much commotion” for the family to handle.
“They named him Boofa because he was too boofy. I couldn’t handle two syllables in the name, so we shortened Boofa to Boof,” Mr Tredinnick said.
Boof had a patient and calm manner, so he was trained to become a therapy dog after a stranger in a pet store suggested his temperament would lend well to the task.
Boof’s first visit to the Law Library in 2016 had an immediate positive effect, grabbing the attention of many students studying on the first floor, Mr Tredinnick recollected.
“It was a house on fire. It was fantastic,” he said.
Kaz, who was originally named Paz, became a rescue dog when her prior owners sold their farm and moved into an apartment unsuitable for a large Maremma.
“We just couldn’t get our heads around the name Paz, but we had to do something similar so we changed the ‘P’ to a ‘K’,” Mr Tredinnick said.
Bachelor of Arts/Law fourth year student Anita Anderson said, although she hasn’t spent a lot of time with Boof and Kaz, she can “definitely recognise the importance they hold” for LSS.
“Especially at the tougher ends of the semester when everyone is stressed, when Boof and Kaz come around to the [Law] Library it feels like a moment that the community can come together and relax,” Ms Anderson said.
“I think they make for a good study break that a lot of people look forward to every week, making them a unique part of the LSS community.”
Mr Tredinnick said he understands law students as having a “very high” degree of stress and hopes Boof and Kaz can help “start the conversation” about mental health.