TUSTEP service dogs bring joy to campus life

Rosie Li, Staff Reporter

The following is an opinion article and opinion articles do not reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo.

The Tulane University Service-Dog Training and Education Program has gained increasing attention and popularity and brought happiness to our campus through its distinctive mission and operations. Programs like these are what make Tulane’s campus unique, and increase the quality of student life.

TUSTEP was founded in the spring 2013 semester, and the program has been raising two service dogs on campus since fall 2013. Two additional puppies were introduced into the program this fall.

The program provides Tulane students with the opportunity to train dogs for Canine Companions for Independence, a national nonprofit organization that trains and provides service dogs. TUSTEP recruits students to train puppies from an early age to prepare the dogs to assist disabled people in the future. 

Director of Housing Kim Montague said in an interview with The Hullabaloo last year that Housing and Residence Life initially did not want to allow TUSTEP on campus but later agreed to let the 2013-2014 school year become a trial run for the organization. As new service dogs in training come to campus, it is still unclear whether the program will be allowed to continue indefinitely. HRL should consider the multiple benefits associated with having these dogs on campus and allow the program to continue. 

This organization is wonderful, and more needs to be done to promote TUSTEP to the student body and to further serve its goal. Sophomore Darian Hummel adopted a service puppy in training this fall. She said while accompanying and training the puppy, Archer, is a huge time commitment, she is greatly enjoying the experience. She said she sees this experience as a way to contribute to the community because the dog will go on to assist people in need.

Not only do the service dogs in training bring joy to their trainers, but they have also enhanced Tulane students’ campus life. Non-service dogs are generally not allowed in on-campus housing, and students lose the emotional support that a pet can offer in times of stress. Students crowd the Academic Success Center’s puppy-centered events to take part in animal interaction. 

Many students would agree that campus changed a little when the first service dog, Kipper, made his way onto campus last fall. Hummel said many students crowd around Archer asking to pet him, and people always come back to greet him. Allowing service dogs in training at Tulane creates a sense of community across campus because students recognize these dogs, can interact with them and can watch them grow.

The dogs frequently make appearances at the Green Wave Community Market where they receive attention from the student body. As pets are often an important aspect in people’s lives, the existence of TUSTEP enriches community life by providing students with what feels like a campus dog.

The Green Wave Community Market is the only event TUSTEP is engaged with, but the program should consider collaborating with the Academic Success Center and hold more events on campus to familiarize people with the organization. This would hopefully secure TUSTEP’s position as a permanent organization and prove that the program provides people with both a meaningful community atmosphere and great joy. 

Rosie Li is a sophomore in the Newcomb-Tulane College. She can be reached for comment at [email protected].

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