Hutch the Library Dog

The Real Reason We Stay At Augustana

by ISABELL STAMM

There is no doubt in our minds that one of Augustana’s greatest advantages is Hutch, the library dog. Nancy, the head librarian, spoke to Hutch’s origins. 

Hutch first began visiting the library as part of pet therapy which was offered during the exam seasons.  It was clear that everyone loved Hutch and, unfortunately, there is a lot of stress out there beyond exam time!  So it became obvious that the ideal solution would be to make Hutch part of the library team thus … Hutch the Library Dog! 

In addition to his training as a therapy dog, we took it upon ourselves to make sure that Hutch met the following requirements: he underwent behavioral and temperament testing from a qualified evaluator, he has an annual vet exam and up-to-date vaccinations, and he has a letter of recommendation from a veterinarian.

He also has liability insurance to be in the role of Hutch the Library Dog! Hutch is very well trained to basically be very compliant when he is in instructed to behave in a lower key manner.  However, given the command, it is like a switch flips and he is running and racing and jumping.  It is amazing and so fun to watch!  We are thrilled to offer Hutch to the campus and community and are blessed that owners Mark Fulton and Ingrid Urberg are happy to have him “work” in the library!”

Hutch’s owner Mark has a similar story:

“Hutch is a welcome addition here at Augustana. When I started working at the library, Nancy asked if I could bring Hutch in as a permanent position since she saw the great stress relief he brought to the students especially during his visits at exam times. I said yes and he has been here ever since.”

Hutch has not always been the easy going pup that we see snoozing in the library every day. He was originally training to be a service dog and came to Mark’s home as a foster. They had him for over a year and then he moved on to his next phase of training for six months at another place. He was doing well in the program however he developed an allergy that gave him red patches and his skin became very itchy. The program directors grudgingly had to let him go and asked Mark and Nancy if they would like to adopt him. It was a no brainer for them, and they took him home.

Since Hutch had already went through most of his assistance training they decided to have him become a registered therapy dog, so he underwent an exam and passed with flying colors. He already knew everything he needed for his exam so he was well prepared. Hutch is a good example for all of us!

Hutch has had few problems in his service at Augustana. He is almost five years old now but the “worst” thing that has ever happened to him was people shying away when he walked by. Being afraid of dogs is a common thing so that is why Hutch is kept in a cage by the front desk and not wandering through the library. The staff take care to vacuum frequently so that his hair does not affect those people with allergies either.

Hutch walks to school every day, about a five minute jaunt for him and Mark. At lunch they go home to visit with their other dog and play. With Hutch being a Labrador he needs to watch his weight so the no treats sign had to be put up by his cage. He loves food, like many of us do, but keeping his weight steady and on a practical diet is important.

Although Hutch is a therapy dog and it is widely encouraged to stop him and play with him whenever he is out and about in his vest or chilling in his cage, it is not so for many other dogs seen on campus. Fergis, a black lab, is a service dog that can occasionally be seen around campus and is not to be pet or interacted with. Hutch may believe he’s missing out but Fergis has a job to do on his jaunts and it is important for students to realize the difference. Other in-training service dogs can be seen around campus in order to get exposed to new situations but it is best to leave them be and only look for the golden locks of our very own library dog Hutch. He wants all the attention anyways.

Hutch is here for everyone. He is Augustana’s very special addition and coming to school everyday or visiting the library would not be the same without him. Show Hutch some love next time you see him, (like you need another excuse) and thank the librarians for letting Hutch be a permanent part of Augustana.

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