The pair strolls through Central Quad and everyone’s heads turn to stare as they pass. The girl looks so content.
And she is.
Kayla Bergmann is in love. Puppy love.
“On a scale of one to 10, how much do I love dogs?” she asks herself. “15.”
The second half of the pair, Snoop, is a golden retriever so pale he is almost white. He also wears a red vest, showing that he’s a 4 Paws for Ability service dog.
Kayla has two dogs of her own at home, both British labs that are “especially fancy,” as she describes. But on campus, she is a puppy-sitter for the club 4 Paws for Ability, taking care of the dogs when their fosters are unable.
She may not have as strong a connection to the dogs on campus as she does with her own, but everyone, including Kayla, loves a puppy.
“It’s really fun. Everybody looks at you and makes the universal dog face,” Kayla says. “It’s like an, ‘Oh my gosh, there’s a dog!’ look. And then they’ll usually elbow their friend, too.”
After the stares come the petitions — everyone wants to pet the pup.
“They’ll always come up to you on your way to class or something, even if you’re running late,” Kayla says.
“But I’m never late, obviously,” she adds, sarcastically.
The tardiness may annoy other people, but Kayla doesn’t mind. For some of the dogs, their ability to get their companion to talk to people is an important part of the job.
“One of the things the dogs might do is be an autism service dog,” Kayla says. “They’re supposed to help the people socialize among other things. People will come up and ask about the dog and the owner will get to talk about their dog. Who wouldn’t want to talk about their dog?”
Even though she’s not the owner of the dog, or even the foster, Kayla loves being around the dogs. Sometimes, she even feels like how she imagines the future owner of the dog will feel.
“Everyone wants to talk to you about your dog and it just makes you feel so good because that’s how a kid is gonna feel with this dog someday,” Kayla says.
So Kayla continues to puppy sit and bring the dogs around campus. And she still gets the stares.
“I just feel so popular,” she says. “But I know it’s just the dog.”