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Taking paw-sitive steps towards wellbeing

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We recently went along on one of Grey College’s wellbeing dog walks, organised by their Assistant Principal, Judith Barbaro-Brown.

Judith, who is the owner of four beautiful cocker spaniels - Scrabble, Digby, Seamus and Bailey - regularly brings her furry friends into college after she found them a great way to connect with students.

The dogs can often be found hanging out with students in the Junior Common Room or leading the way on one of their monthly wellbeing dog walks.

Digby gets ready for a wellbeing walk
Digby gets ready for a wellbeing walk

Judith said: “The dogs have been such an asset to the welfare and Student Support Team here at Grey. We often find that students will come over for a chat or join our walks who wouldn’t usually present themselves to us in a formal way.

It’s a great opportunity to get to know as many of our students as possible, but it also really benefits those students who might be feeling homesick, lonely or stressed.

Each wellbeing walk, which is usually attended by two of the four dogs, is adapted to suit the abilities of those attending, and doesn’t last longer than 45 minutes.

In 2023 we invested an extra £1.3m into Student Support Services, which led to the college appointing a new Assistant Student Support Officer (ASSO).

Since then, the college has also been able to introduce a range of new wellbeing initiatives such as activities like craft sessions, where students have the opportunity to speak to support staff in an informal setting.

The dogs each have their own Grey College Welfare hoodies
The dogs each have their own Grey College Welfare hoodies

All students at Durham can speak to their College Student Support team about wellbeing concerns, or to their Department's Student Support staff about issues affecting studies. We also have a range of mental wellbeing support and other specialist services. 

Find out more

  • You can find out more about the support available to students on the Student Support Hub.
  • Please note, Grey College health and wellbeing dog walks are only available to Grey College students. The dogs’ welfare comes first.
  • Please note, pets cannot be accommodated by the University. 



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