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Hoonah Who? Meet the Star Pup of the Counseling Center

Trenton Almgren-Davis

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Hoonah, the resident star of the University Counseling Center as well as the first animal-assisted therapy dog employed at SLU, is as good-natured and comforting as he is big. A dedicated employee, Hoonah is present in the University Counseling Center on Thursdays and is often booked with appointments.

Like clockwork, every Thursday at four in the afternoon, Hoonah is accompanied by his favorite human, Jennifer Scott, to Yappy Hour. Yappy Hour is one of the many ways that the duo interacts with students across SLU. Because the location changes each week, a wide variety of students get the chance to say hello and shower Hoonah with attention. Scott, who also works within the Counseling Center, comments that Yappy Hour is important because it “helps relieve stress and also provides an opening to counseling for people who might be less willing to come in,” as well as  “it provides two faces of the counseling center.”

When he’s not at Yappy Hour, Hoonah performs his job with single-minded determination, participating in therapy sessions and outreach events across campus. These events range from visiting sororities and fraternities, stopping by University 101 classes, and attending speaking events on campus. During therapy sessions, Hoonah relaxes in the room while being present for students in whatever way they need him to be. In a number of cases, Hoonah does this by choosing to lay across student’s feet and relax.

Hoonah is the model employee — flexible, positive, and so excited to come to campus. In fact, Hoonah enjoys SLU so much that as Scott pointed out, “he doesn’t want to leave half the time.” Like all SLU employees, Hoonah possesses his own ID card and is featured under the staff section on the University Counseling Center’s page.

His staff portfolio isn’t Hoonah’s only foray into the internet — he is also the star of his very own Instagram (@hoonahatslunah). Hoonah’s Instagram page captures his day-to-day life, both at work and at home. Pictures range from Hoonah hanging out with students, enjoying the holidays in festive hats, spending time with Scott, and his most comfortable nap spots across campus.

Despite only being roughly two years old, Hoonah’s favorite thing to do in his free time is sleep. Scott often lets him on the couch, where he will happily doze until disturbed. When he’s not sleeping, Hoonah enjoys chewing on blankets and pillows, going on walks, meeting other dogs, and of course, going to work. Hoonah’s favorite snacks are apples, pumpkins and donuts; with his sensitive nose, he can tell when anyone in the Counseling Center has food that he is interested in. “He will smell it [apples] in my bag,” Scott said with a laugh, “and he will just stare at it. It’s hilarious.”

When asked the most important question of all — if Hoonah was, in fact, a good boy, Scott immediately responded with — “Oh, he’s a good boy. He’s the best boy.”

If you or your organization are interested in meeting Hoonah, contact [email protected]

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Hoonah Who? Meet the Star Pup of the Counseling Center