Dog-friendly campus providing a paws-itive experience for La Salle students

Madison Griffin, ’25, is the student caretaker for La Salle’s pupscot Angus, an English bulldog.

At La Salle, dogs (and other four-legged friends) are welcome—and often are seen accompanying students on campus.

Having a furry companion on campus has been a rewarding experience for La Salle University students.

Just ask Philadelphia native Madison Griffin, ’25. The first-year student who is majoring in political science, philosophy, and economics has a love of dogs.

That’s why she became a student caretaker or handler for La Salle’s pupscot Angus, an English bulldog. Angus has occupied La Salle’s campus since 2019, when the University became the first in the Philadelphia region to introduce a dog-friendly residence hall. Since then, dogs (and other four-legged furry friends) have become regulars at La Salle, accompanying students on Hansen Quad, in the residence halls, and elsewhere.

In particular, Angus has become a staple at University events. He’s welcomed prospective students to campus and helped cheer on the Explorers from the stands in Tom Gola Arena at TruMark Financial Center.

Pets, in many ways, can serve as emotional support for college students who are navigating new environments and experiences, said La Salle’s Gabrielle St. Léger, Ed.D, Vice President of Student Development and Campus Life.

“Pets are an amazing way to tackle concerns with adjusting to La Salle and managing anxiety,” St Léger said. “In addition, pets serve as a connector and a builder of friendships in college. We are happy that we have been able to provide a space where furry friends are welcomed.”

What’s it like having a dog companion on a college campus? We asked Griffin.

What made it a good fit for you to be Angus’ handler?

“I saw the opportunity to apply to be Angus’ handler on the University’s Office of Residence Life’s Instagram and thought that would be something really cool to do.”

What’s the experience like?

“It’s been rewarding, I would say. In the beginning it was stressful to learn a new environment, but now current students know who I am and know my room. They come up to my room and want to see us. I take him for walks around the North Hall complex and into the courtyard. It’s great; students come up to me to pet him. Angus gets so excited around students.”

How do you balance the responsibility of Angus with your academics?

“Sometimes I bring Angus with me to class. He’s so well-known on campus, and it makes it a little easier. He’s also the best study partner.”

Was it hard being a first-year student and full-time pet owner?
A. “Having Angus on campus has been so good for my mental health. If I wasn’t feeling well or feeling overwhelmed, Angus would always nudge me for a hug or a forehead scratch.”

What is a typical day with Angus like?

“Angus loves to nap, but he really enjoys taking a daily walk and playing on campus. My friends and I will grab a ball and toss it back and forth to Angus. Getting exercise every day is really important to his overall health. So, I make sure he eats throughout the day. He loves carrots and apples. His favorite treat is apples. I pick them up from either the Blue and Gold Dining Hall or at EatWell in the Union.”

Who are Angus’ closest campus friends?

“He loves every student on campus! He also really enjoys my other dog Brian, who sometimes comes for visits. He can’t wait to get out and meet new friends, especially when the weather warms up.”

What advice would you give to a student who is thinking about having a dog or pet on campus?

“Live with Angus or among the other students with dogs. It’s been such a wonderful experience. Although it’s a lot of responsibility, it’s taught me many valuable lessons that I don’t think I would have had if I wasn’t his handler.”

—Shea Wright