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So, we’re all preparing to return to university but its hard not to reflect upon the opportunities and experiences that the pandemic has forced us to all miss out on. Whilst your old flatmates from first year have all slowly dispersed as you’ve gone your separate ways and the ‘friends’ you made last year are only real through Microsoft Teams, it’s safe to say that at some point we have all felt that detachment from those we have met. But then, there are our dogs. Our furry friends who have never left our side. Their affectionate personality as they eagerly greet you at the door with their tail-wagging, their wet tongues hanging clumsily from their mouths as if to say: “I’ve missed you so much” even though you’ve only been gone for two hours. This crucial role that dogs play in our lives was the focus of the interview that SCAN’s Comment Editor had with Tyler Broad and El Louise, the President and Vice-President of Lancaster University’s Unofficial Dog Society.
We firstly discussed the meaning behind the society’s creation to which Tyler expressed that despite on the surface, many would expect it to be predominantly about dogs, the society has been built with the main intention of supporting the wellbeing of students: “we want to focus more on students because what I find when I come to university is that my dogs are the main thing that I miss…homesickness with dogs is a real thing”. This idea was reinforced when asked what they were hoping the society would achieve, to this El expressed that they are hoping it will act as a “wholesome community”, away from the lively nature of day-to-day student life and as a place to go and talk about dogs and mental health. One idea they had to achieve this was through a “welfare chat” which was proposed to take place through socials such as picnics and movie nights.
Furthermore, Tyler and El noted that they are also hoping to fundraise and work alongside dog charities, such as the Guide Dog Society and Dogs Trust. Although their plans for fundraising are still in progress, ideas include: dog walking for the public, bag-packing in the local supermarkets and through the organization of social events. “We plan to always have a bucket at all events, so even when we’re not directly fundraising… if anyone wants to donate at a non-fundraising event, they can”, whilst fundraising events may ask you to pay a small fee, which will go directly to the designated charity. When asked why they thought fundraising was so important, both El and Tyler stated that there are a lot of people without Guide Dogs who need them due to the insufficient funding – especially since the pandemic – however, as well as fundraising to equip people with Guide Dogs, both also expressed the importance of charity work to rehome former Guide Dogs.
With fundraising at it’s centre, I think we can all recognize the worthy efforts and aims this society has, with its dedication for working towards progressive change rooted within a shared love and admiration for dogs; this truly is a society for everyone.