Jimmy Chipolata is a therapy dog with a sense of style.
This charismatic Dachshund has been relishing the limelight at Nottingham Trent University while providing students with much-needed stress relief.
Jimmy is thought to be one of the UK’s first in-house therapy pets and the Doxie relishes the spotlight when it comes to making new friends at university (and earning lots of cheesy treats).
Of course, COVID-19 has put Jimmy’s therapy work on pause but the Sausage Dog is focusing on his fashion brand.
We spoke to owner Debra Easter to learn more about Jimmy, the benefits of therapy dogs in a university setting for students and this fashion conscious Sausage Dog’s new clothing range.
1) How did you end up with Jimmy?
Jimmy was a rehome about 4 years ago through a work contact and we jumped at the chance of taking him on. He was very overweight when we first rehomed him, with rolls of fat on his legs and was not used to regular walks. It took us about six months to get him fit and healthy and he is now lean, muscular and full of life. He now loves long walks and runs.
2) What attracted you to the Dachshund breed?
Personality, absolute love and neediness that the Dachshund breed offer. I’m also quite nervous of big dogs too, so I wanted something small and friendly. We adopted a little sister for him in December 2019 from the RSPCA, Ivy Cumberland. Ivy was a rescue from a puppy farm, so had already had multiple litters of puppies when we got her. Jimmy and Ivy are besotted with each other.
3) What is Jimmy’s personality like?
He is brimming with character and adores people. He wants 24/7 attention and fuss and his favourite thing in the world is cuddles and cheese.
4) How did Jimmy first become involved in pet therapy sessions?
I took him into work at NTU to help promote some of our activities that my team offer to students, and Jimmy was a way to get students involved. He was a big hit and attracted a crowd and it went from there.
5) How did Jimmy end up offering pet therapy sessions at Nottingham Trent University start?
I was contacted by our student support team who’d spotted him on campus and we did an exam stress therapy session in the library. It was crazily busy and students were about six deep in the crowd. We also had local TV crew there too.
6) What is involved in the average pet therapy session at Nottingham Trent University?
Cheese mainly – Jimmy will work the room and will want to make sure he gets a stroke and fuss from every person in the room. This often involves passing the cheese pot around. I closely manage his cheese intake!
7) How have the students responded to their therapy sessions with Jimmy at NTU?
Students really love seeing Jimmy Chipolata, although he’s not been in for quite a while due to Covid and he’s really missing the contact. Students are often overwhelmed with emotion as they miss their own pets at home whilst away at Uni, so although most of the time they feel really happy to see him, we also have tears on occasion.
8) What do you believe are the benefits of pet therapy sessions at universities?
It’s definitely a very good stress release for students and he does have a very calming effect on people. People leave on a high and feel positive after some Jimmy love.
9) Have you seen any unexpected benefits from your work at NTU with Jimmy?
He’s a great way to pull a crowd and engage students and staff in other activities.
10) What would you say to a student who is struggling with anxiety/stress about trying pet therapy?
I would definitely recommend this and it would be really good to explore this further in terms of more structured counselling with dogs as a support tool.
11) Do you think all universities should consider implementing pet therapy for their students?
Yes, I’d love to see dogs having an official staff role.
12) Why do you think Dachshunds make great therapy dogs?
Most Dachshunds are very needy and affectionate, but not all! Some can be overly loyal, protective and barky, it all comes down to the individuals dogs personality. All dogs also need to go through a thorough pet therapy assessment which is really important to make sure a dog is not reactive in any way and can adapt to unusual situations.
13) How is Jimmy’s Dachshund clothing range going?
I started this as I was struggling to find good quality tailored jackets to fit the unique sausage dog shape. It’s going well and our most popular item is our green tweed hat. To find out more about Jimmy’s fashion range, click here.
For more information: https://petsastherapy.org/