Augustana Observer

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Augustana Observer

    Viking Pups still going strong

    As of recently, some confusion has arisen as to whether or not Viking Pups, Augustana’s beloved club that trains service and therapy dogs, would be continuing on campus.  Fortunately, the club is definitely going to continue as long as it can.
    “There were some changes,” Dr. Jayne Rose, one of the advisors for Viking Pups explained. “Viking Pups are partnered with Quad City Canine Assistance Network, QC CAN, and there were some changes going on within their organization.”
    Dr. Rose explained that due to the partnership between Viking Pups and QC CAN, everything that impacts the organization also impacts the club. “Last year we weren’t sure what was going to happen…but things are going well enough that the club is definitely going to be continuing” she assured.
    According to Dr. Rose, although Viking Pups is going to be continuing, it might be on a smaller scale.  The number of dogs that the club works with depends on the number of clients with QC CAN, so the club isn’t always sure how many dogs they will have.
    “QC CAN trains dogs for specific clients so to some degree, the number of dogs being trained by members of the Viking Pups is determined by the number of clients working with QC CAN, ” she stated.
    As a club, Viking Pups has been on Augustana’s campus since 2011 is very popular among incoming and returning students. In fact, Ali Kerr, president of Viking Pups, explained that there can sometimes be nearly 300 people who show up to the first meeting.
    However, being a member of Viking Pups isn’t about petting dogs like many people think.
    “Eventually, [some new members] just realize that you just can’t pet the dogs all the time” Kerr stated.  “It’s not the fluffy dog club, so they end up dropping out.”
    In fact the process to become a handler—someone who trains the dogs—is very a very intensive, yet rewarding, process.  “We have such a specialized training protocol for [the dogs] we get from our other organization that we work with.  Not just anybody can handle the dogs,” Kerr emphasized.
    Since service and therapy dogs play such an important role in their client’s life, it is imperative that they are properly trained to be able to do their job correctly.  Kerr explained that the actual process to become a handler includes first observing, learning, and coming to meetings for the first trimester.  Members will learn the service dog laws, what service dogs do, and the training protocol among many things.  
    After that first trimester, members can apply to be a probationary handler in training during the second term allowing them to come to more trainings, followed by an application to be a handler in training in the spring. Handlers in training are then paired up with a handler so they can work with them in what Kerr described as a “mentor program”. If they make it through spring term and get accepted, they can be a handler the next year.
    While some might be intimidated by the training process, it is completely necessary so that the club can find people right for the position. “Poseidon [one of the service dogs in training]…is going to be saving a little girl’s life,” Kerr elaborated. “We don’t want just any random person touching him and potentially affecting his training.”
    Fortunately, Viking Pups is a club on campus dedicated to helping and educating the community, and they are definitely still going strong with the support of the Augustana campus.
    “I can’t promise that five years down the road everything is going to be there but I would say that the college seems pretty committed to supporting the organization,” Dr. Rose said. “As long as we have them as a partner, and things are going well for them, things should be fine.”
    Students who are interested in becoming members of Viking Pups should contact [email protected], and be on the lookout for weekly meetings on Mondays.

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    Viking Pups still going strong