Member Profiles: Madison Etchberger

This week, I interviewed Madison, our current Dog House Secretary. Madison is a sophomore Biology m

Member Profiles: Vallie “Epe” McConnell

Everyone loves Dog House because of the dogs. They are amazing animals full of kindness and love. Bu

Productive Procrastination

Finals are approaching, so that means the DH pack members are doing what any college student would d


Member Profiles: Madison Etchberger

November 8, 2014 in Uncategorized

MadisonThis week, I interviewed Madison, our current Dog House Secretary. Madison is a sophomore Biology major. Over the summer, Madison puppy sat SSD Hopper. Most of those awesome pictures I posted on Facebook during the summer were from her!

Madison’s middle name is Catherine, her favorite color is teal, and her current favorite song is Shake it Off, covered by Us The Duo. (I highly recommend you click that link and listen to it. Even if you don’t like Taylor Swift, this is a really cool version of the song).

I asked Madison the classic “Why Dog House” question. She said, “the dogs initially drew me. But the people make the hard work worth it.” I also asked how her experience with SSD Hopper was over the summer. She told me it was amazing, challenging, and rewarding. Hop would be perfect one second, and the next have to work through being distracted. When I asked her how she liked being on the board, she said she likes it because it teaches all of the board a lot of leadership. We have to figure out what works and what doesn’t work. Then she said, “it’s also a group of people who can obsess over the same dog as I am!”

Madison’s favorite Islands litter puppy was Montego. She wants to go abroad over the summer to Uganda. She joined the Dickinson Equestrian Team this year and received Anika Yetsko, our Head of Community Outreach, as a “big”. I asked her what it was like having Anika as a “mom”. She laughed and said, “like my mom, she always makes sure I am doing well, and she would do anything for me… I think.”

Thanks for taking the time to talk with me, Madison! And thank you for all that you do. Your position is so important, and you are doing amazingly! We couldn’t do what we do without you!

Member Profiles: Vallie “Epe” McConnell

October 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

Everyone loves Dog House because of the dogs. They are amazing animals full of kindness and love. But sometimes we focus too much on the dogs, and not enough on the amazing people of Dog House. My goal for this year is to get to know the Pack and to share what I know about these amazing people with all of you. Thus, I came up with the idea of member profiles. Every week, I will interview a Dog House member and post it here for everyone to see! This week, I’d like to highlight Epe (pronounced “Eppie”) McConnell, a freshman Pack member who has already proved to be dedicated and loyal. Epe was born on August 1st, 1996. She lives in Richmond, Virginia where she has a yellow lab named TJ, a cat named Loki (that name is familiar to us!), and two rats that she had to give away before coming to school. When I asked her why she chose Dickinson, she told me it was the first college she toured, and that she felt at home. She likes that it’s small, beautiful, and everyone is so friendly. Also, as a prospective neuroscience major, she is excited about all of the study abroad opportunities Dickinson offers, even to science majors. On campus, Epe is apart of Dog House, Relay for Life, Phoenix, and Gaming Club. I had to ask: “why Dog House?” She said she has a cousin who is deaf and also has cerebral palsy, so she is very interested in helping people with disabilities. “Also, dogs,” of course! As for some of her favorites, Epe’s dog breeds of choice are labs and Leonbergers (pictured below). Her favorite item of fall clothing is scarves, her favorite TV show is Hannibal, and her favorite animal is the gorilla. She also told me she has synesthesia, a phenomenon that occurs neurologically in which a person involuntarily connects two or more senses or cognitive pathways. For instance, Epe can taste colors. “Sour things taste blue,” she explained. “Salt and vinegar chips are blue. Cherry flavored things are blue, too.” Epe, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. We are so happy to have you as part of the Pack!

Productive Procrastination

May 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

Finals are approaching, so that means the DH pack members are doing what any college student would do…we’ve been hugging puppies! Four of us went to visit the Aunts and Uncles litter today (the very same litter that the DH residents whelped!) and it was the perfect de-stresser. The puppies are about five weeks old now and could not be any cuter. We’re excited to see what these little ones will end up doing as fully-grown service dogs! We even put one of the puppies in her miniature service vest.

Of course we took pictures to document the outing.


May 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

Did you know that “whelp” is a real word? I’m not talking about the exclamation. I’m talking about dog whelping, which is essentially dog birthing. Here’s the definition:

whelp (v.) – (of a female dog, lion, etc.) to give birth to (young)

Apparently this also applies to lions.

The reason we’re even having this conversation about whelping is because the Dog House residents assisted with a whelp a few weeks ago. At any given time Susquehanna Service Dogs (SSD) has a few litters of puppies that are waiting to be old enough to go off to their puppy raisers and start their training. Those puppies have to come from somewhere, so SSD also breeds and whelps dogs.

After receiving their invitation to take part in an SSD whelp, the DH residents waited for the phone call that would sound off the puppy alarm. The call came, the residents took off, and several hours later there were seven crawling puppies surrounding an exhausted mama dog. The litter has been dubbed the “Aunts and Uncles” litter in honor of their father, Uncle Ed, a handsome lab from Canine Partners for Life.

Flash forward to the present: those same puppies are now old enough to participate in what SSD calls “Puppy Hugging”. It’s exactly what it sounds like: volunteers go visit the puppies for 45 minutes at a time to socialize the dogs. Puppy Hugging helps ease the puppies into training before they leave their mother. This way the puppies become comfortable around all people, not just their puppy raisers.

Today a few members of the DH pack are going to visit the Aunts and Uncles litter to participate in the litter’s first Puppy Hugging. Luckily, they’ve promised to take plenty of pictures.

Below are pictures from the whelp, as well as pictures from another Puppy Hugging extravaganza that some pack members attended a few weeks ago.

The Whelp

Puppy Hugging


Dog House Wins Award

May 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

The Dog House won Program of the Year at Dickinson’s  Leadership Recognition Ceremony on Tuesday! Lauren (DH Director) and Carley (DH Coordinator) attended the event, but had to leave early to make it to the Dog House board meeting (example of superb leadership). At the meeting we found out that not only had we been nominated for the award, but we won! It was the perfect way to celebrate our last board meeting of the year. If you’re curious about what the Program of the Year award entails, here’s the official description:

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A big thanks to everyone who has helped the Dog House this year! Even if you just stopped to pet one of our dogs, you have helped create teaching moments for our dogs and the handlers.

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Apologies from the negligent webmaster…here are puppy photos!

April 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

I am cringing as I write this post because it has been so long since I last updated the blog. I extend my sincerest apologies to everyone who has been deprived of puppy pictures. I’m going to try to make up for it.

Here are some photos from Hopper’s first night in the DH!



Did you also know that Hopper is now 3 months old as of Saturday? She celebrated the occasion by attending Spring Fest–which was essentially the party she’s always dreamed of. There were people, other dogs, plastic cups, grass, skateboards, and hamburgers. She went nuts. Although these photos don’t properly convey her excitement, she did have a blast. We also discovered that Hopper will do anything for a hamburger.

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Many more updates are coming soon. Enjoy looking at Hopper’s adorable face. 🙂


Special Interest Housing, Senate Recognition, Big Plans, Oh My!

March 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

In case you haven’t heard, Dog House recently applied to be a Special Interest House and was accepted! We’re staying in the same house (for now), and are looking for two new residents for next semester.

Additionally, Dog House applied to be Student Senate recognized. Carley and Lauren went before the Clubs and Affairs committee last week and were approved to move on to present to the entire senate… Which is happening tonight!

What would it mean if we get senate recognition? We would get funding from senate and be recognized as an official club. Very exciting stuff!

And lastly in our recent happenings, we have some very exciting plans for next year… They’re not 100% guaranteed, so we can’t reveal anything yet. But stay tuned! In time, we will announce our grand plans the way new parents send out a birth announcement! (Hint hint, think about it…)


March 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

How many likes can the Dickinson Dog House get?

Challenged by the Director of Dog House, Lauren Holtz ’15, the Dickinson Dog House is trying to get 700+ likes on the Facebook page! The prize for success? Hopefully some lovely baked goods.

The original challenge was to get 615 likes, but when that number was reached within a few hours and subsequently doubled, the ante was upped.

Currently, the Dog House has 653 likes- only 47 to go until we reach our goal!

So, readers, have you liked the Dickinson Dog House page on Facebook? If you haven’t, do so right now! If you have, tell your friends to like us as well!

You’ll learn about Dog House, see our event updates, and have cute pictures of puppies on your News Feed.

Like us at (without the spaces): facebook. com/ dickinsondoghouse

Training Update

March 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

This Saturday the Dog House trainers received some training updates. During two training sessions they practiced loose-leash walking (i.e. human walks dog, dog doesn’t walk human) and discussed how to prevent the Lokester from barking at passersby. We’re working on keeping Loki focused on the walk, not on smells, people, cars, noises, food, rocks, snow, leaves, and more. He’s a bit distractible. But he’s improving! During the training sessions both Loki and the trainers did exceptionally well. The trainers kept Loki on track and Loki happily trotted through the Kauffman parking lot by his trainers’ sides.

After an exhausting morning Loki decided to take a well-deserved rest in Rachel’s lap.


At the Dog House we like to say that every moment is a teachable moment. This is true for every single interaction that Loki has, even when it’s not with a trainer. If you happen to see Loki out on one of his walks, you can help with his training as well! Feel free to come say hi to Loki and his human, just make sure that Loki sits before you pet him. Loki LOVES to be pet, and he’s learning that sitting is the best way for him to be rewarded with a pat on the head.

Also, do not worry if you see a trainer and Loki having a difficult time on a walk. Some days Loki behaves better than others, so he’s not always going to act perfectly for us. Trainers have been taught to give quick tugs on the leash and to make a noise to redirect Loki’s attention back to the walk. Loki wears a special harness so when a trainer pulls on the leash it doesn’t hurt him. We also have certain movements we use to correct Loki’s behavior. So, if you see someone struggling to get Loki back on track, don’t worry. Loki is in good hands. 🙂

He’s baaaaaack!

February 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

In case you haven’t noticed, our dear Loki has returned!

To recap, Loki and Regis departed the Dog House in November and went on to continue their training. Regis received his North Star PhD, while Loki had several training adventures. He even took a plan ride!

Now the Lokester is back at the DH and ready to become a star service dog. Eventually.