Fraternity members encourage living with house dogs


Ellie Hahn

By Arielle Kramer, Staff writer

With their loud music, sticky floors and large group gatherings, fraternity houses aren’t known to be conducive to clean and quiet living. Visitors are oftentimes surprised to come across a dog living in the fraternity house.

However, dog owners in Greek life on campus are trying to squash the notion that dogs lead subpar lives in fraternity houses.

TJ Childers, junior in LAS and member of the Theta Xi fraternity, owns a husky named Avery.

Childers adopted Avery at the end of the summer and brought him to the Champaign fraternity house at just eight weeks old. He said he had no prior concerns about bringing his new pet to live in the fraternity house.

“If I tried to bring a dog not as a puppy into a fraternity house, the dog would (probably) be freaked out the whole time,” Childers said. “He just loves it all, but I would assume older dogs would be scared or territorial.”

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Childers said not only did his fraternity brothers agree to adopt the dog, but Avery thrives in the fast-paced, rambunctious environment.

“I never thought it was unfair for him,” Childers said. “During parties, he loves noise, attention and people. He cries when I don’t let him out when people are around. He wants to be surrounded by everyone. I never thought it was unfair for him.”

In fact, Childers argues his dog is privileged to be living in this environment.

“He has it better than most dogs because he has so much attention,” Childers said. “I think it works out for him. He loves it.”

Even though the chapter adviser has no issues with owning a dog, dealing with the stigma is a constant burden for dog owners like Childers.

“One time, a girl broke a bottle in my room and was yelling about how awful I am for having him,” Childers said.

Karsten Frigo, junior in LAS and member of the Theta Xi fraternity with Childers, agreed with his brothers’ consensus that Greek life is certainly not mediocre for furry friends like Avery.

“He gets more attention than he would anywhere else,” Frigo said. “(Childers) brought him to a few pre-games, but no one ever gives him alcohol. He’ll be running around when everyone is out and if he’s too rowdy, (Childers will) put him in his common room … it’s not worse than any other living situation for any other dog.”

Even with a chapter adviser alumnus who makes occasional visits and a house manager in charge of making sure everything is running smoothly at the fraternity, Frigo is confident that having a dog in the house will not cause problems.

“I don’t think they know about the dog, but I don’t think they would do anything about it,” Frigo said. “I don’t think they would be concerned about the dog’s health or anything like that. They’re both alums, so they know what it’s like living in a frat and probably had dogs back then too. And no one in the house objects to having the dog.”

However, the party lifestyle has its fair share of downsides — Childers does admit he must be on high alert both during large gatherings and on a daily basis.

“I have to keep my room clean, and other people will leave things around and I’ll have to clean up after them,” Childers said. “It’s not because I want the place to be sparkling, but I’m scared of him getting into things.”

Despite this need for extra surveillance efforts, Childers is confident in his abilities to ensure Avery’s well-being.

“There are a lot of temptations, but he’s a smart dog. I can’t let him go in certain areas after parties; there are designated party areas so I’ll have him stay in the basement or in the common room. I just focus my entire attention on Avery when he’s there.”

Nate Kelly, junior in ACES and member of the Alpha Chi Ro fraternity, goes through similar processes living with his dog Stella. He also takes extra precautions to make sure Stella is living in a safe environment, yet doesn’t see anything as too risky.

“If it’s messy after a party then I’ll keep her on a leash and bring her right outside,” Kelly said. “If you keep them exercised and feed them and stay on top of everything, then they’re not at a disadvantage.”

Kelly also said the fraternity lifestyle is accompanied by positives and negatives.

“I think it’s a trade-off. When a dog lives in a home, they get a yard to themselves, get to be inside the house and it’s more tame and more controlled,” Kelly said. “But she gets to have a ton of human interaction and she needs to burn a lot of energy, so it’s worthwhile to have her in the house.”

Sarah Albert, teaching assistant for the Animal Science Department, said if the appropriate conditions are met, she sees no reason for dogs not to be allowed in fraternity houses — and the benefit is mutual.

“As long as a dog is getting an appropriate amount of care — food, water, time to be let out, mental and physical stimulation and socialization training — I see no reason that the dogs can’t be in a fraternity house,” Alberts said.

Albert also said fraternity dogs teach the members how to be more responsible and contribute to stress reduction. Fraternity dogs also help boost self-esteem among members, provide emotional support and help get the men outside to walk the dog.

Kelly and Childers agree that they will try to continue to break the stigma of suffering fraternity dogs and advocate for the overall health and happiness of their canines.

“I honestly can’t say about all the frat dogs,” Childers said. “I don’t doubt that there could be mistreated frat dogs out there. But still, dogs in most frats likely have it better than (many) other dogs.”

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