February 24, 2024

Despite the familiar, fuzzy faces back on campus again, the 4 Paws for Ability Program at Wittenberg includes a few changes this year, according to Wittenberg’s 4 Paws campus coordinators Carly Gundlach, ’16, and Mariam “Paige” Stimmel, ’16.
4 Paws enriches the lives of children with disabilities by training and placing quality, task-trained service dogs, according to the 4 Paws website.
The dogs spend one semester on Wittenberg’s campus to become socialized around college students before they are placed with their families.
One addition to the program at Wittenberg is the new Facebook page, 4 Paws for Ability at Wittenberg.
The account is set up in a way similar to the “Eye of the Tiger” Instagram account, and it will feature a different set of handlers and their dog each week, according to Gundlach.
“This year, we are really starting to inform campus more about what we are doing with the dogs,” Gundlach said. “Each week [through the Facebook page], students get to meet one of the dogs to see what their day-to-day lives are like.”
Another difference between this year and past years is that there are no papillons on campus.
“[Handlers] just tended to prefer larger breeds, mainly because that’s what they are used to caring for,” Stimmel said.

4 Paws “Mini Features”
Koosh 6wDog: Koosh
Co-handlers: Waverly Hebert, ’16; Madeline Geiger, ’16; and Morgan Gecking, ’16

Answers from Geiger:
What has been the best part of being a handler so far?
I love watching Koosh learn and grow. In the short time we have had him, he has learned so much from us, and we have learned from him. He answers to his name now, and he recognizes me and my co-handlers. It is also great to take him into public and see the positive reaction he gets from the community. Most people have no idea what 4 Paws is, so it gives me the chance to really promote the organization.
How would you describe your dog’s personality?
He is very laid back. He is an avid napper, both in class and at home. However, he LOVES a good game of fetch and will continue to bring back the ball until he cannot even stand anymore. He is a very sweet puppy who loves to be pet and will return the favor with a big, wet kiss.
Dog: Hula Hoop
Nickname: Hula
Co-handlers: Emilie Naccarato, ’16, and Katelyne Ackley, ’17

Answers from Naccarato:
Why did you and your co-handler decide to participate in the 4 Paws for Ability program?Hula3w
We decided to participate in the 4 Paws for Ability program because we feel that it is a great cause and that these dogs will have an amazing impact on a family and, in many ways, give families peace of mind for their children.
Have there been any challenges with your dog so far?
It is actually a funny challenge, but since the leaves are starting to fall, Hula chases them on our walks.
Dog: Yu-Gi-Oh
Nickname: Yugi
Co-handlers: Rebecah Delp, ’16; and Francesca Bowsher, ’17

Answers from Delp:
Have there been any challenges with your dog so far?
Who wants to do schoolwork when there’s a cute puppy wanting to play? The puppy definitely adds on a whole other level of time management to our already busy schedules.
What do you expect to gain from the experience?
We are hoping that we gain a real sense of pride and accomplishment after giving Yugi back to finally go match with and meet his forever family. We want him to be happy wherever he ends up and to make a family in need even happier. Knowing that we helped him accomplish that is an accomplishment for us as well.

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