Puppy love

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Photo by Sarah Kuhns (sarah.kuhns@marquette.edu)

There are many dorm dogs across residence halls.

It’s the week of finals. Everyone has either been hidden in their rooms or sprawled across the library preparing for the most stressful week of the year. They’re reaching the edge of burnout with nothing to pull them from the slump, but there are a few who can help. These superheroes prance through the dorms on their four little legs, a pleasant distraction from the mountains of test material.

Marquette University features nine residence halls and several of them are home to the “dorm dogs,” named by the students. These little pooches live in the halls and spend their time meeting students and receiving more pets than they could’ve ever imagined. 

Cobeen Hall is home to two dogs, Phoebe and Emery. Phoebe is a retriever mix and Emery is a Beagle and Pembroke Welsh Corgi mix.

Phoebe, named after the character from “Friends,” is about five years old and has been with her owner Bernadette Heitschmidt, Cobeen’s hall minister, for three years.

“I had just started working as a residence hall director when my supervisor was fostering Phoebe … and my supervisor knew I was interested in adopting a dog and suggested I come take a look at her,” Heitschmidt said. “I told my supervisor not to get her hopes up because if this dog was not the dog for me, that I would have to pass. Then I met Phoebe and I just did not want anyone else to have her, I knew she belonged with me.” 

The other pup, Emery, is an emotional support animal for Sophie Cieslicki, the residence hall director at Cobeen. Emery is a rescue dog who loves playing fetch and chasing her ball around the Cobeen lobby. 

“She loves getting residents and staff to play with her, and she loves all the attention she receives here,” Cieslicki said.  

Aside from being fun to play with, the dogs give students a break from the stress of college. Mental Health America reports found that 75% of people in proximity to a pet have improved mental health.

“Whenever I am stressed from work, Emery reminds me to take a breather and take time away from work to enjoy life, and I think she has the same effect on the students she interacts with too,” Cieslicki said. “It gives students a break from their busy days to just relax for a bit and enjoy the company of a dog.” 

The dorm dogs also help students struggling with homesickness. They bring a sense of comfort and normalcy to the new situation the residents are navigating.

“I think having a dog in the residence hall makes the hall feel more like a home for many students,” Heitschmidt said. “I constantly hear students saying as they pet Phoebe that they miss their dog or another family pet at home.” 

“I love seeing [the dogs] around campus, especially Phoebe because she reminds be of my own dog,” Fiona Kelly, a first-year in the College of Arts & Sciences, said. “It’s very therapeutic being around the dogs and getting to know them.”

The dorm dogs are a welcome break from stress and allow everyone to take a moment. They can also be the source of a good laugh.

Heistschmidt recalls one day at the beginning of the year when the staff was showing off their rooms and Phoebe was drawn in by the excitement. She decided she had to join the fun too and strolled right into the celebration.

“I just couldn’t believe she wandered off and now we have a joke that Phoebe wanted to be an official staff member,” Heitschmidt said. 

If you’re having a rough day, think about stopping by and saying hello to Phoebe and Emery or checking on the other dogs on campus. 

This story was written by Izzy Fonfara Drewel. She can be reached at isabella.fonfaradrewel@marquette.edu.