By Rochelle Hughes
A university is employing the UK’s first in-house therapy pooch to stop students from fearing the WURST – and he’s a rescue sausage dog who goes by the name of Jimmy Chipolata.
The adorable pup is a famous face on campus at Nottingham Trent University [NTU], where he works with owner Debra Easter, who is head of student employability.
The resilient rescue dog was once twice his size and was unable to walk without getting blisters and rolls of fat on his legs, but now he spends his time soothing students who are struggling with stress.
Debra said Jimmy – who receives masses of student attention everywhere he goes – loves being in the limelight and gets upset if anyone ignores him.
The 45-year-old mum-of-two, from Nottingham, said: “Jimmy absolutely loves the limelight. He actually gets down if people don’t take notice of him or give him a fuss.
“There is lots of research to demonstrate the impact of pets on mental health and well being.
“When I first started bringing him onto campus the impact on our students and staff was clearly demonstrated, so I decided to register him with ‘pets as therapy’ as an official therapy pooch.
“Since Jimmy has been here, I’ve seen people come forward who normally wouldn’t come and talk, such as lesser-engaged and shyer students.
“Lots of our staff and students’ well being can improve just by stroking Jimmy and giving him a fuss.
“We get quite a lot of students who miss their pets at home and are having a stressful time with workload and exams, and Jimmy soothes them.”
Jimmy Chipolata was rescued by Debra from a broken home two years ago where he was overfed and not walked.
Jimmy now works part time at NTU with Debra as a therapy, well-being and employability specialist – coming into the office a few days a week.
Debra, who has been at NTU for eight years, first started bringing Jimmy into the office around a year ago.
Jimmy now has more than 1,000 followers on Instagram after Debra posted images of him in his trendy new clothes.
He has a range of outfits which he shows off on campus including a cap and gown, a Burberry coat and a flat cap.
Debra said: “I was looking for a rescue dog and I had hoped for a sausage dog or a whippet.
“When he first came to me he was in a really bad way.
“He was twice the size and looked really overweight with rolls of fat on his legs.
“I could tell he wasn’t walked because he couldn’t go around the block without getting blisters. He just wasn’t used to it.
“There has been a huge impact on the students, they absolutely love him, as do the staff.
“And while he might not be on the payroll here – just payment in cheese – I’m sure he would love to job share with me.
“He knows how to work a room and strut up and down the office.”