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Meet Jimmy Chipolata, every stressed-out student’s four-legged friend


Name: Jimmy Chipolata.

Age: Unknown.

Appearance: Long and thin, essentially tubular.

Is Jimmy Chipolata a sausage? Close – he’s a sausage dog.

OK, but I say dachshund, because I’m an adult. Jimmy doesn’t care what you say. He has a job to do.

What kind of job? Does he sell sausages? No. He’s the in-house therapy dog for Nottingham Trent University.

I confess I was not aware there was such a post. That’s not surprising. Jimmy Chipolata is the first to hold it.

And what does this job entail? Jimmy provides psychological support for students stressed out by work, exams or their career prospects.

How does he do that? Mostly by allowing himself to be stroked and cuddled.

You mean like any dog would? Jimmy’s owner Debra Easter, head of student employability at NTU, says, “Since Jimmy has been here, I’ve seen people come forward who normally wouldn’t come and talk, such as less-engaged and shyer students.”

Hang on, is this just a story about someone bringing their dog to work? Not at all. Jimmy is a registered therapy dog. “There is lots of research to demonstrate the impact of pets on mental health and wellbeing,” says Easter.

What does he do all day? He’s only in the office a few days a week, but when he’s there he makes regular rounds of the campus, sometimes dressed in a cute little tie and mortarboard, helping students to remain calm.

It sounds like hard work for Jimmy Chipolata. He loves it, apparently. “He actually gets down if people don’t take notice of him or make a fuss,” says Easter. Once an overweight, under-exercised rescue dog, Jimmy is now trim, healthy and gainfully employed.

How much does he make a year? Jimmy draws no salary. He gets paid in cheese.

Well, it’s a heartwarming story, as I’m sure absolutely everyone would agree. Not quite everyone. Chris McGovern of the Campaign for Real Education called the idea “pseudo-psychology” and said of NTU students: “If they’re getting to 18, 19 and 20 and need a dog to cheer them up, they’ve got a real problem.”

Chris McGovern sounds like someone auditioning to play a villain in a cartoon. Perhaps he thinks dogs are only good for making coats out of.

Do say: “Goodbye, Mr Chipolata, and thanks for the breathing exercises!”

Don’t say: “When I said I wanted a pay rise, I didn’t mean more cheese.”

Source: TheGuardian