Written by Lily Hamstra
On Monday, March 29, Tisha Looby, associate dean of women, reached out to Southern’s Thatcher residents in search of individuals who would be willing to walk her dogs.
“My dogs are not able to run around in the dorm courtyard because they see people come through and try to ‘play’ with each person,” Looby said. “However, this type of play does not work well — my dogs are over 100 pounds.”
Looby has four large dogs. Panda, Kodiak and Baloo are Great Danes, and Bear is a Boerboel, also known as a South African Mastiff. Although Looby usually keeps the dogs in a secondary location where they can play during the day, the rain from last week left the location flooded and muddy.
“I couldn’t let the dogs stay there,” Looby said. “I was home one morning, and I heard Panda whining. She wanted to come out and play, and I felt terrible. My hands were already full with my three kids, so I asked for help.”
Looby emailed Thatcher residents to see if anyone was free to take her dogs on a walk. She noted that experience with large dogs was required.
“I was desperate,” Tisha Looby said. “Then the Lord compelled me to ask for help. With that, I sent the email out, and within minutes, responses started to flood in.”
Looby said she received responses from many residents willing to help walk her dogs.
“I lost count after 29. And, after that, I sent a follow up email and told them I had enough volunteers,” Looby said.
Although Looby initiated the call for help, walking the dogs had a positive effect on the volunteers.
“I wanted a break from school and this was a fun way to find entertainment outside of my classes,” said Genesis Sanchez, freshman business administration major. “I love Great Danes, and walking the dogs was a really nice break from my hectic schedule.”
Vashi Krones, freshman psychology major, also helped walk one of Looby’s dogs.
“I miss my own dog a lot,” Krones said. “Animals help with my depression and anxiety, and I had seen the dogs outside my window on a few occasions. I would totally do it again.”
Esther Penden, freshman computer science major, also felt walking the dogs was beneficial for her mental health.
“Spending time walking Panda actually helped me to relax and destress,” said Penden. “Walking dogs is definitely therapeutic, and the dog enjoys it too!”
Following the overflow of positive responses and support, Looby is encouraging residents to reach out if they would like to spend time with the dogs.
“My dogs are always available to be loved on,” Looby said. “Just email or text me, and I will add you to the app where you can schedule a time to be with them.”