Pups for Pals, a Texas A&M organization that provides volunteers to train service dogs, announced this week that the phrase “Please Give Me Dirty Looks! I Haven’t Earned Kindness!” will be sewn into the right side of dogs’ vests. The updated vests, to be instated in January, will address concerns of the organization’s trainers, especially concerns about the university’s student population.
President of Pups for Pals, Mariella Abarca-Catalan, a senior animal science major, said that the organization is constantly searching for new ways to improve not only their trainers but the trainees as well. This particular change addresses the need for consistency in training. “If all they get is smiles, then all they’re going to want is smiles, head scratches, and candy,” said Abarca-Catalan “They need to know that what they signed up for isn’t happy all the time. In fact, it’s never happy. It’s a job 24/7. But that was their choice.”
Proponents of the new addition claim that the university as a whole would benefit from the changes to the vest. A spokesperson for Texas A&M’s mascot, Reveille, has publicly given approval for the changes. The spokesperson claimed that while Reveille was supportive of all fellow canines, she would not object to more concentrated amounts of love.
Jez Albertson, junior biomedical sciences major, is interested in how these changes will bring energy to the university’s student population. Albertson believes that smiling at passing service dogs drains students of essential serotonin levels. “There is only so much kindness to go around,” Albertson said.
Molly Kita, a senior poultry science major and vice-president of Pups for Pals, is a self-described advocate for this change. “It is important that everyone knows their roles,” said Kita. “Trainers are in charge of not only the dog, but the people as well. A smile is like a gateway drug for a dog; if they get a taste of the high, they’re just going to start spiraling out of control.”