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Friendly Therapy Dogs Bringing Joy to Michigan University Students

Friendly Therapy Dogs Bringing Joy to Michigan University Students

A local from Ann Arbor has dedicated almost a decade to raising furry companions to support students seeking a break from the pressures of University of Michigan classes.

Raissa Hinman, a passionate breeder and trainer of Alaskan Malamutes since the 1990s, has now shifted her focus to therapy dog work with her beloved pups, Hawkeye, Taima, and Shilo.

Every Tuesday at noon, Hinman strolls one of her therapy dogs – often the friendly 9-year-old Hawkeye – from her home on the Old West Side to the University Hospital System Wolverine Wellness clinic on Fuller Street.

Source: MLive

Students can drop by the clinic, make appointments, or simply stop to greet the serene pup, who loves nothing more than belly rubs and affection.

Hawkeye, the veteran of the group, and 4-year-old Taima are both certified therapy dogs registered with Therapaws of Michigan. The newest addition, 6-month-old Shilo, will soon join them at the clinic once he completes his certification.

Describing Hawkeye as a laid-back dog who prefers a relaxed approach, Hinman says,

“He’s the type who lets you come to him. But Taima is all about showering you with love and attention.”

With regular visits to the clinic for seven years, Hawkeye has become a familiar face, so much so that university staff even created a special profile page for him.

In addition to the clinic, Hinman and her dogs also spread joy at nursing homes, schools, and children’s events through Therapaws.

Each week, the amiable sled dog showcases his impeccable obedience skills, serenades students with occasional howls, and entertains with what Hinman affectionately calls “silly pet tricks,” often using props like a stomp rocket.

Hawkeye can be spotted around campus during events or at Wolverine Wellness on quiet days. During a recent snowstorm, he was surrounded by a crowd of students at the Michigan Union, basking in their affection.

During one particular week, several students attended Hawkeye’s “office hours,” including Abi Dziedzic, who shared, “I met Hawkeye last year during finals. Therapaws brought in a bunch of dogs during finals week, and it was a great stress reliever.”

Source: MLive

Gathering around Hinman and Hawkeye, students and staff enjoyed petting the pup and learning more about him.

Hawkeye and his furry friends participate in the clinic’s PaWWs and Relax program, bringing smiles to all they meet.

Along with his profile, university employees have designed Hawkeye trading cards and a special “HAWKEYE” vanity license plate for Hinman’s pickup used to transport the dogs.

According to Hinman, her Malamutes excel as therapy dogs due to their natural affinity for humans, emphasizing the importance of temperament and training in a dog’s behavior around people.

Reflecting on her journey with the breed, which began with a mixed-breed sled dog, Hinman credits her first Malamute, Cody, for teaching her the significance of breeding for temperament.

This led her to Sue Fuller of Mountain Home Malamutes, from whom she adopted her first female Malamute, Sister, in 1997.

Source: MLive

Starting her own breeding business under the name Arcticdawn Alaskan Malamutes, Hinman has raised multiple generations of dogs, including the popular Atka, whose offspring are now scattered worldwide.

Hawkeye, with his AKC certificate of UDX, earned through his outstanding performance in agility and obedience events, stands out as one of Hinman’s exceptional therapy dogs, known for his calm and friendly nature.

As the last pup she kept before retiring from breeding, Hawkeye continues to bring joy to students and staff on campus. With Taima and Shilo by his side, Hinman looks forward to expanding their therapy dog team and spreading more happiness to the University of Michigan community.

So, if you’re in need of a furry pick-me-up, don’t miss Hawkeye and his pals at the Wolverine Wellness clinic every Tuesday from noon to 1 p.m.

Just remember to book your appointment in advance to spend some quality time with these lovable therapy dogs!

Emma, who has a journalism education, enthusiastically writes articles for our dog blog. She combines her love for writing with her deep fondness for dogs to create engaging and informative content. Emma's work reflects her commitment to sharing heartwarming stories and valuable insights about our beloved canine companions.