It’s Raining (Wild)Cats and Dogs at the University of Kentucky

It’s Raining (Wild)Cats and Dogs at the University of Kentucky

A bond that will forever change both dog and human.
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LEXINGTON, Ky.—An elite team of eight is making a difference on the campus of the University of Kentucky. As students walk to and from class, they stop and stare at the members of this group and often snap pictures.

At first glance, one may venture that the students are mesmerized by players from UK’s ever popular, eight-time NCAA championship men’s basketball team, but they would be wrong. These members of this team are of much shorter stature.

The Wildcat Service Dogs are an elite group of service dogs in training that are making a difference with helping hands, make that helping paws, on UK’s campus.

Founded by Katie Skarvan in 2014, Wildcat Service Dogs is an organization run completely by students. The program raises and trains service dogs for the first 10-12 months of their lives before they go on to specialized training with Assistance Dogs for Achieving Independence.

Even more amazing than the fact that these dogs learn to pay cashiers with credit cards or open doors, is the unique relationship that develops between the trainer and dog over the course of their time in the program.

Upon receiving their puppy, trainers are responsible for socializing, teaching, housing, and financing their dogs. In addition to working with their puppy, trainers must attend weekly training sessions and once-a-month socialization outings, as well as completing progress reports to define their dog’s improvement for the week.

Molly Mathistad, current Vice President of WSD and a trainer of one-year-old Hudson who graduated the WSD program Oct 14, reflected on their close bond.

“I grew to love Hudson with all of my heart because of how goofy, happy, and loving he was” she said, “I knew that he would be there to make my day with that smile every time I looked at him, just like he knew that I'd always be smiling back.”

It is this special relationship between trainer and dog that make this program so successful and allows it to make such an impact on the campus.

Mathistad and Hudson’s emotional connection was reflected in their working relationship.

“Creating a bond with your training partner is one of the most important things to their training,” Mathistad says.

“A lot of training a service dog is just making everything that you possibly can into a positive experience, and when they know that nothing negative is going to happen because they look to you and you're excited about what's happening, they're much more open to it.”

The WSD program is set up to teach the dogs basic commands first, and mastering them is tantamount to their future success. They learn to sit, down, stay, and watch as their initial commands in addition to being potty-trained and taught to respond to their names.

Socialization is an imperative factor in their training as well. Service dogs must become acclimated to various scents, sounds, people, places, and environments.

The trainer is the key tool in accomplishing these goals. Their emotions in regards to training sessions have a heavy impact on the dog.

“If they [the dog] feel you getting frustrated, they shut down as well. If they see you acting scared, they can react to that too; and conversely, if they see that you're excited about something, they'll be more open to it as well,” says Mathistad.

Wildcat Service Dogs also gives members the chance to be “sitters”. These members are an incredible aid for trainers who need to work, study, or do something personal that their dog cannot be a part of. Sitters take the dog into their hands for the allotted time that the trainer needs covered. During this time they are responsible for ensuring that the dog continues to practice the skills that they are being trained to do.

Thus, sitters have an opportunity to form a relationship with the dogs in the program as well, a bond that makes an impact on their own lives just as much as the dogs.

“My favorite part of sitting the dogs in Wildcat Service Dogs is getting to work with each dog in the program, and getting to know each of their different personalities, said Kate Clowes, a trained sitter for WSD.

Clowes has been sitter with the program for a year now and loves every minute.

“I get a chance to be a part of something great, and I get to work with amazing dogs to do it,” she says, “I get to see firsthand the relationship that these animals have with their trainers, and I get to be a small part of that as well.”

Both Clowes’ and Mathistad’s work with WSD reflect the mission of the organization and their desire to touch the lives of the community through the dogs they work with.

Through developing numerous skills, socialization training and preparation for future advanced training, each dog from WSD are becoming the perfect aide and best friend for their future owners.

Each dog’s trainer is a piece of helping them accomplish that.

Mathistad explains that knowing she’s making a difference makes the experience so much more special.

“The dedication, time, patience, and selflessness which this process requires can take so much out of you by the end of the day, but that dog will change your whole world and most importantly, you'll get to see your best friend changing someone else's.”

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18 Realities Only Chihuahua Owners Understand

Tiny tongues, toys and tummy rubs.
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Being a Chihuahua owner is a task many are not cut out for. Chihuahua hearts are big but there owners' are bigger. From constant coddling to invasive snuggles, there are some things only a Chihuahua owner understands:

1. Tiny tongue in your nose.

Be wary. Look away for a moment and your Chihuahua's tongue will slide into your nose faster than you can say stop. Just to be clear, this doesn't end at noses. Other body cavities, such as the eyes, ears and mouth are also at risk for Chihuahua infiltration.

2. Cat toys are its toys.

When your dog is tiny, it needs tiny toys.

3. Burying.

If your dog is missing, it's probably at the foot of your bed... under the covers. Oh, your bed is made? You don't think they would have been able to nuzzle down without disturbing your pillows? Wrong.

4. Claw marks halfway to your knee.

Because they want to be picked up and that's as high as they can reach.

5. Belly rubs.

Lots of them.

6. The fact that your dog is basically a cat.

They play with cat toys. They're cat sized.

7. The fact that your dog is more like a baby than a dog, or even a cat.

Okay, scratch that. Owning a chihuahua is more like having an infant that needs constant coddling. If they could talk we'd hear "pick me up, mommy" all day long.

8. The shakes.

Shakes because they're scared. Shakes because they're nervous.

9. Any miniature sized objects become toys.

Wine corks, toilet paper rolls...

10. Constant crying.

They cry when they're too excited, overwhelmed or scared which means it's always eye-wiping time!

11. Snuggles in your body's crevices

Mere cuddling is not enough for these creatures. Snuggling is only adequate when they strategically place themselves into the most irritating curve of your body- like the arch of your back or the back of your knees.

12. Being judged for the type of dog you own.

As if all Chihuahua owners participate in this type of embarrassing behavior... not saying that I don't.

13. Little dog syndrome.

14. Rain is not your friend.

Let's not even talk about thunder. There's no way you're getting your dog out of the house for a of couple hours.

15. You can't count how many times your dog has been called the Taco Bell Dog.

Yes, we get it, it's a Chihuahua. No, it doesn't need a sombrero.

16. You never go anywhere in your house alone.

Going to the kitchen? So are they! Bathroom, no problem, they'll be there to support you!

17. 'Sit' probably took you six months.

Let's just say, at least they've got the cute thing going for them.

18. The stank eye.



Cover Image Credit: Rachel C. Baxter

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15 Productive Activities To Beat The Rainy Day Blues

Rain, you can come again another day.

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Chances are that if you live in the state of Virginia, you're experiencing a rather wet start to summer. I could probably count on one hand the number of nice, sunny days we've had since I moved home from college. While some rainy days are nice, it's time for the wetness and the humidity to take a leave, and for the summer heat and sun to take over.

If you're starting to run out of ways to preoccupy yourself during these rainy days, here are some ideas:

Take a few Buzzfeed quizzes, then a few more.

Bake some chocolate chip cookies.

Binge watch your favorite television show or movie series.

Clean your room...or the bathroom...or the kitchen...really the possibilities are endless and you'll feel good afterward.

Take a hot bubble bath.

Read a new book or a favorite book.

Go to the mall.

Try out a new recipe.

Have a game day with friends or family.

Get organized for the remainder of the week/month.

Go through old photos and videos and reminisce.

Browse through Pinterest and do something crafty.

Pamper yourself with face masks, hair masks, a facial, mani-pedis, the possibilities are endless and its the perfect day for it.

Go through your closet and figure out what you still use and what you can give away.

Pretend your still a kid and build a fort to watch movies with friends.



Obviously in summer, most of us would rather be outside soaking in the sun, but hopefully with these ideas your rainy days won't be quite as boring and tedious.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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