Name: Katie Daily
Year & Major: Junior / Nursing
Hometown: New Haven, CT
Q: How did you get involved in becoming a caretaker for Jonathan?
A: In the fall of my sophomore year, I pledged the co-ed community service fraternity called Alpha Phi Omega. Many people don’t know this, but we actually own Jonathan! Back in the 70s, the Student Senate wanted to get rid of the mascot (can you believe that!?), but a student petition luckily kept him on campus and he was turned over to APO. Once you’re a brother of the fraternity, you can apply to be a “handler.” There is an entire application process including a quiz, interview, and training session with the dogs. If you pass everything, you get the privilege of working with them.
Q: What does taking care of Jonathan entail?
A: Monday–Friday, a couple of handlers will walk both Jonathan the 13th and 14th for about an hour in the afternoon. It’s extremely important for huskies to get a lot of exercise, so they also go on runs a couple times a week. When we’re not with them, they’re cared for by the host family that they live with.
Q: How many other people are caretakers? Do you enjoy working with them?
A: Other than his amazing host family, there are about 12 student handlers that help take care of him. It’s a really great group of people to work with because on top of being my brothers, we all have a mutual desire to do everything we can to keep Jonathan happy and healthy.
Q: What types of events do you attend with Jonathan?
A: We go to a multitude of different events with Jonathan, ranging from basketball and football games, to non-UConn things like nursing home visits. We try to limit him to a certain number of events per week because he is a dog, and can get overwhelmed.
Q: What is his personality like?
A: A lot of us find ourselves referring to him as “derpy” (he makes some great facial expressions). He just recently turned 3, so he’s still kind of a puppy, and you can sometimes catch him chasing his tail or a leaf blowing in the wind. He can be a bit stubborn, but that’s just in a husky’s nature. All in all, he’s extremely friendly and always excited to meet new people.
Q: What has been your favorite experience so far in this role?
A: My favorite experience as a handler has got to be seeing how excited people get when they meet Jonathan. There have been so many people that say, “this actually made my day!” after spending just a couple of minutes with him. It’s awesome to watch him make people smile, and it makes me realize how honored I am to take part in his care.
Q: Are there any well kept secrets about both Jonathans that you can tell us?