It’s a bit early for new members (or in this case, Friars) to start the rush process, but Phi Kappa Theta welcomed a new fraternity brother the day before Commencement, and he immediately became part of the brotherhood—even if he’s the only one in the house who’s not allowed to sit on the couch.
His name is Diesel, and he’s majoring in training to become a guide dog for the Guide Dog Foundation (with a double minor in taking naps and being ridiculously cute).
The brothers of Phi Kappa Theta had regularly mentioned in passing that they’d like having a dog in the house, but for a long time, there was no initiative to come up with a viable solution to actually get one.
“The general idea of having a dog is great,” says computer science major Jake Scheide ’19, who also serves as one of Diesel’s primary puppy raisers, “but the responsibility of having to actually take care of one is totally different.”
Other fraternities have adopted house dogs in the past, but the brothers quickly decided against that, with Scheide explaining, “That’s a 12-year commitment. People in the chapter 10 years from now might not want or have the capacity to care for a dog.”
Eventually, the idea of partnering with the Guide Dog Foundation to raise a guide dog puppy was brought up, and Scheide immediately latched onto it.
The Foundation provides people who are blind or visually impaired with highly trained guide dogs free of charge, and operates almost entirely from donations and volunteer work, something Scheide says he and his brothers are honored to contribute to.
“It’s an awesome initiative to be a part of,” he says. “It’s a win-win: we get a dog, and we get to help someone else at the end of the day.”
Of course, it wasn’t a simple “ask and ye shall receive” situation—the Kap house is owned by the fraternity’s alumni association, known as Aquinas. Their lease initially forbade pets, but starting in September 2017, Scheide offered his first presentation to Aquinas and his brothers about the benefits of raising a puppy.
Scheide left to complete his IQP in China a month later, but that didn’t slow the momentum—he continued to regularly call into Aquinas meetings to address insurance concerns, offer solutions, and reiterate positives—something, he says, the dedication of his Friar class built upon and drove forward as their way to benefit the chapter until, ultimately, they brought Diesel home with the unanimous approval of Aquinas.
“Diesel, sit … nice!”
While Scheide acts as one of Diesel’s primary handlers to help lead the training, all of the brothers pitch in from day to day in the hopes that they’ll begin a legacy of sorts within the Guide Dog Foundation, where future brothers have the option of raising their own guide dog and creating a recurring tradition.
Scheide is quick to cite the support and enthusiasm of the Guide Dog Foundation in their endeavor to raise Diesel. “They knew he was going to get all the socialization he needed from being in the house—they’re happy with how we’ve been progressing with him,” he says. “Hopefully having this little guy around campus will convince others to take on the role and become puppy raisers, and he’ll be the first of many at WPI.”