After being the mascot of UW Tacoma for 13 years, Hendrix will be retiring at the end of summer quarter to welcome a new dog on campus.
Back in 2008, the Student Activities Board at UW Tacoma decided to bring UWT’s very own mascot to campus. After brainstorming, contemplation and planning for nine months with the School Spirit & Traditions Chair, Hendrix the husky was welcomed to the Tacoma campus family.
Now, 13 years later, Hendrix is retiring. And come Autumn, a new dog will be on campus. But for the first time since the establishment of any of the three UW campuses, the mascot will not be a husky. Instead, UW Tacoma will venture down a path different from its sister schools to bring Humphrey the Chihuahua, a rescue dog, aboard.
Erim Saka, a member of the Student Activities Board, gave insight as to why they decided to make this change.
“In a constantly evolving world, we didn’t want to be a university stuck in the past using old, cheesy mascot uniforms,” he said. “We want an actual dog students can connect with. It took a lot of time to come up with the best next step, and we decided a Chihuahua would be easy to train and small enough to be unalarming.”
With a stressful year under many students’ belts and time away from campus for so long, Jolene Haverstacker — a faculty member with the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at UW Tacoma — pointed out that they wanted an animal they could easily make a home for on campus.
“We thought by having a small dog as our mascot, he would be approachable for students who are uneasy around big animals,” she said. “This way, we could make a home for him where he can also offer support as a therapy dog if students may need one.”
Pet therapy is offered at Hall Health Center on the UW Seattle campus, and UW Tacoma is planning to expand their services in this area if the trial with Humphrey goes well. As a growing field to help individuals cope with mental health and medical concerns, CAPS is hopeful they can follow in Hall Health’s steps.
Select members of the SAB and a certified therapy dog trainer will be working with Humphrey throughout the Spring and Summer quarters so students will be able to meet him in Autumn when everyone is projected to safely return to campus.
Some students and alumni have expressed concern about this change, noting that it will ‘revoke the spirit’ or ‘reduce what it means to be a Husky,’ but Saka wanted to point out that change can be a good thing.
“Like I said, the world is in a constant state of change. It was bound to happen sooner or later,” Saka said. “This change isn’t to tarnish the reputation of the University of Washington. Nothing about the teaching style or learning experience will change, we just won’t have a big goofy mascot at certain events.”
Haverstacker also pointed to the benefits of switching things up. .
“This will open the potential to help students mentally and ease the healing process a bit after an unprecedented and turbulent year,” she said. “We are hopeful that students will also be open to change to welcome a new animal to the UW family.”
If you have any questions or would like to learn more about Humphrey you can visit www.UWTacoma/APRILFOOLS.com. Sorry if you got excited about having a small pet on campus, Hendrix is here to stay … at least for the foreseeable future, happy April Fool’s Day!