Exeter College students helped through exam season by adorable therapy dog Digby

  • Watch Claire Manning's report.

Exeter College has brought in a therapy dog to help students taking exams with their mental health.

Digby, the Australian Labradoodle, works alongside his owner Matt on the college's wellbeing team four days a week, providing students with something calm to focus on.

The dog was chosen because his breed means he has a gentle temperament and a hypoallergenic coat, meaning even people nervous or allergic to dogs should be okay with him.

Before supporting students, Digby used to work with Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service as a trauma therapy dog, and even featured on ITV West Country after helping to rescue a woman who was considering taking her own life.

But when his owner Matt Goodman retired from the fire service, he joined the student services wellbeing and safeguarding team. With exam season now picking up, Digby has been kept busy by the students.

AS student Adriana Zeamaneagram said: "It's made me so happy to be honest. I saw him and the first thing I wanted to do was give him a big hug. You know, just de-stress, be happy, he's so cute."

Fellow student Tegan said: "It's quite useful because he's quite a cute little guy."

Digby comes onto campus to calm students ahead of their exams - and the college has said anecdotal evidence suggests it's working

Matt said he decided to bring Digby to Exeter College because he recognises the stress that many pupils are under.

Matt said: "There's a lot of pressure, there's a lot of tension and there's a lot of focus, but what we're able to do is just interact with the students before they go into their examinations.

"They're able to focus on the dog, that brings a smile to their face and if that's just one little pressure relief valve before they go into an exam, then that's job done."

The college has said that anecdotal evidence suggests Digby is having a positive impact on students at the site, even if he cannot resolve every issue.

Kristyn Woodward, director of student services said: "Digby can be a really good vehicle to be an ice breaker to get students to start engaging and start talking about wellbeing and their mental health. "