The howling of young men and the chattering of young women are not the only sounds resounding in the halls of Hillsdale College dormitories: There is barking, too.
A few dorms on campus are home to dogs. From providing comfort and stress relief to contributing to a homey feel in the residence halls, these canines are loved by the students. The Simpson, McIntyre, Galloway, and Whitley residences all house cuddly canines.
Simpson’s house mom, Peggy Wilson, owns a German Shepherd Collie mix named Codie. The 4‑year-old pupper is quiet and hardly barks. Codie is popular with the guys and enjoys being around them, all while being extremely protective of her owner.
“She keeps me company when the guys are gone,” Wilson said. “It’s really nice to have her. She’s very protective of me when I’m in here. Even the guys that she knows, when they come in she’ll grumble but her tail wags. She just wants them to know that she’s here and is protective.”
Wilson allows the Simpson guys to spend as much time with Codie as they need. Galloway’s dorm mom, Joann Arendt, does the same.
“The students, if they’re doing laundry or are stressed with homework, they just come down and pet the dog or take him for a run,” Arendt said. “When they come in and visit, sometimes they come in and talk. It’s nice because it reminds them of home. A lot of them have dogs.”
Arendt owns Winston, a pure-blooded Brittany. The 2‑year-old pup is named after Winston Churchill. Arendt is considering making Winston’s official title “Sir Winston Churchill of Galloway” on his American Kennel Club paperwork. Sophomore Resident Assistant Rowan Macwan said Winston is a joy to have around the dorm.
“Winston is so incredible, so loving, so kind, and so hyper,” Macwan said. “And he makes me happy. I hang with him every time I am there.”
Galloway residents love Arendt, whom they call Mrs. A, as much as they love Winston, since she is always there to talk through their stresses and issues.
“Mrs. A is the most kind and gentle soul or spirit or person on campus,” Macwan said of the Galloway dorm mom. “She loves all of us, and we love her. And she loves Jesus, and she loves Winston.”
Arendt allows the guys to take Winston around campus on walks and to come into her apartment to chat and relax. One such resident is sophomore RA Nathan Grime.
“Nathan took him for a walk, and they had something going on in the quad,” Arendt said. “There was one picture of Nathan with Winston, and in the next picture, eight girls were around Winston. They call him the ‘chick magnet.’”
But the chicks have dogs of their own, with two in Whitley and one in McIntyre. Whitley is home to two long-haired chihuahuas, Star and Gala. Theresa Martin, dorm mom for McIntyre, owns Bean, a miniature long-haired dachshund with quite the personality.
“I call him my wild squirrel monkey dog,” Martin said. “He thinks he’s a circus dog. He jumps from the sofa, to the footstool, to the other footstool, and back, and back. He sits up like a meerkat.”
Martin has been the house mom in “Mac” for 17 years. Before Bean, she had a black lab named Budweiser. She says the dogs provide comfort to the students.
“The students love him,” Martin said. “Because if you’re down in the dumps and you want to come in and talk to me, you sit down and the dog is there. You want to pet the dog. He’s very loving.”
Dorm moms are involved in everything from resolving dorm issues to being in charge of the RA team. Many students take advantage of that opportunity just to talk through their day with the dorm moms. Though students enjoy visits with the dogs, those few minutes with the moms can be just as helpful and stress-relieving.
Freshman Michaela Stiles said she enjoys the presence of the dorm moms in the residence halls.
“I like that there is still this mom that takes care of us,” Stiles said. “And that even though we’re adults and everything, there is still someone looking out for us.”
For students in Hillsdale’s dorms, the best mom is a dog mom.