Canine-Specific Interest House Introduced to Residence Life for 2016-2017 School Year

Sara Platnick

In response to a growing demand for puppies for students, a dog-only interest house has been added to the Interest House Community for the 2016-2017 school year.
The house will be specifically for the six canines; however, students will walk the dogs on and near campus. Though students will be unable to live in the house, they will be allowed to come and go, and the house will put on plenty of events.
The idea for the all-dog interest house came about after residence life and the counseling center came together to find a solution for the growing need for stressed out students to relax on campus.
Constant attention from students who missed their dogs from home was wearing out Louie, the Counseling Center therapy dog. So the two groups joined together to create a solution that would be first in the nation on a college campus.
“This is a growing issue that needed addressing before the Class of 2020 arrives. And though it may seem like financial accessibility or political correctness may be a more pressing issue, we really do believe that an all-dog interest house can solve more issues than people expect. You can’t be upset about systematic inequality or social injustice when you’re petting a dog. It’s just not possible,” said Head Warden of Residence Life Tancy Navill.
The house can board six dogs, along with one dog expert who will take care of them. The dogs living in the house were selected through an application and training. In addition to an individual interview, contenders were placed in small groups in a Bachelor style audition to see how compatible they would be.
In addition, the house wanted a diversity of breeds, ages and sizes, allowing for a vibrant community that could reach out to as many student preferences as possible. Also, with the growing popularity of a local neighborhood corgi, Badger, residence life also looked into having a well-known dog breed to cheer up students.
“Corgis are small, derpy and adorable. They don’t really know what they’re doing, kind of like me, and so I find playing with them to be so relaxing,” said senior Tom Katz.
However, because the dogs are not officially Whitman College students (as they are not human), residence life had to gain a special conditional use permit from the school to allow the dogs to be part of residence life.  And though it may seem contradictory for a residence life that bans dogs from residence halls to create an all-dog residence house, they felt that it was necessary for students, especially during stressful academic periods.
“Honestly, I’m just glad they’re finally doing something about the dog epidemic here. It’s been way too long since I’ve been able to see my golden retriever, so it’s nice to go to the outhouse to see my friends and then over to the canine house to see the dogs,” said first year Eloise Poutret.