Animal Assisted Intervention program at NMU

The Wildpups are NMU’s embedded animal-assisted intervention (AAI) program. AAI’s involves a human (handler)-animal team that has specialized training in their field. AAIs are intended to aid in the improvement of others’ physical, cognitive, and psychosocial functioning (Winkle, 2018).

AAI is a broad umbrella consisting of three sub-types of interventions that animals can provide: animal-assisted activity (AAA), animal-assisted education (AAE), and animal-assisted therapy (AAT). AAAs involve volunteers who provide recreational opportunities to enhance the quality of life of others (Pet Partners, 2017). These activities are more informal and include general therapy visits. AAE is when a handler-animal team is qualified to provide educational services on AAI (Winkle, 2018; Pet Partners, 2017). AAT is offered in a formal therapeutic capacity when a handler-animal team is qualified to provide a professional service such as physical, cognitive, or psychosocial therapies. These programs are efficient, flexible, and remove the stigma of “therapy” (Fine, 2019).

The goal of The Wildpups program is to provide recreation, education, motivation, and support to enrich campus.


  • Fine, A. (2019). Handbook on Animal Assisted Therapy: Foundations and Guidelines for Animal Assisted- Interventions. Elsevier Academic Press.
  • Pet Partners. (2017). Terminology
  • Winkle, M. & Linder, D. (2018). Animal-Assisted Interventions: Taxonomy and Best Practices.
  • Human-Animal Interaction Bulletin, 6, 24-36.

Lydia Olson Library Events - Fall 2022

Thursday, September 22, 5pm-6:30pm

Monday, October 3, 12:30-2pm

Thursday, October 27, 4pm-5:30pm

Monday, November 7, 12:30pm-2pm

Thursday, December 1, 4pm-5:30pm

Monday, December 12, 12pm-1:30pm 


Additional Events - Fall 2022

Dorm/patio visit: Sunday, August 28, 12pm-2pm (Lodge dorm patio)

Fall Fest: Monday, August 29, 11am-3pm (Academic mall) 

Wildcat Weekend: October 14-16 (location/time TBD)

Homecoming Parade: Friday, September 23, at 5:30pm 

NMU Faculty Member Wildpups


Fonzie Wildpup


Handler's Name: Michelle Andriacchi, NMU Nursing Professor and Dominic Andriacchi, NMU Political Science Professor

  • Breed: Siberian Husky
  • Birthday: November 30, 2016
  • Favorite things: Napping, treats, cheese, belly rubs, and cuddling
  • Fun Fact: Fonzie was rescued and rehabilitated in Oklahoma by the Husky Halfway House


Boris Wildpup


Handler’s Name: Casey Hopper, NMU Nursing Professor


  • Breed: English Mastiff
  • Birthday: 2/14/2019
  • Favorite things: Napping, treats, swimming, and chasing the hose
  • Fun Facts: He weighs 200 pounds and drools a lot


Ramsey WIldpup


Handler’s Name: Anne Stein, Nursing Professor

  • Breed: Australian Shepherd
  • Birthday: September 27, 2017
  • Favorite things: hiking, kayaking, & treats
  • Fun Fact: Ramsey’s owner traveled to Minnesota in a snowstorm during Super Bowl weekend to pick him up


Molly Wildpup


Handler’s Name: Rachel Nye, NMU Nursing Professor

  • Breed: Goldendoodle
  • Birthday: December 28, 2018
  • Favorite things: playing fetch with her spikey ball, peanut butter, spending time with her humans, naps with her head on a pillow, and going for car rides and letting the wind blow through her fur
  • Fun Facts: She likes to sleep with her head on a pillow and likes to counter surf for butter


Sadie Wildpup


Handler’s Name: Katie Taylor, NMU Nursing Professor

  • Breed: Golden Retriever
  • Birthday: October 2, 2017
  • Favorite things: naps, snuggles, watermelon, swimming, and side-by-side rides 
  • Fun Fact: She was rehomed to Katie




Handler’s Name: Tanya Savage, NMU Counselor / Student Support Services

  • Breed: Labrador Retriever
  • Birthday: May 9, 2012
  • Favorite things: opening Christmas presents, getting cards in the mail, eating snacks
  • Fun Fact: She has been doing therapy work for 8 years and she loves to smile.


Luna WildPup


  • Handler’s Name: Katie Menard, NMU Nursing Professor
  • Breed: Golden Retriever
  • Birthday: May 3, 2018
  • Favorite things: People, toys, hiking in the woods, and swimming

Community Member Wildpups from Superior Land Pet Partners:

Wildpup Dixie


Handler’s name: Naomi Noordyk-Piirala

  • Breed: Collie
  • Birthday: January 28, 2016
  • Favorite things: walks in the woods, naps, and visit all her new human friends
WIldpup Sal


Handler’s name: Anna Dauffenbach

  • Breed: Golden Retriever
  • Birthday: September 1, 2019
  • Favorite things: playing with tennis balls, belly rubs, peanut butter, cheese, and snow
Wildpup Hugo


Handler’s name: Nik Hurley

  • Breed: Leonberger
  • Birthday: August 2, 2019
  • Favorite things: playing with dog friends, snow, water, visiting people, cuddles, nibbling, snow biking, and treats
Wildpup Sissy


Handler’s name: Gwen Erickson

  • Breed: Golden Retriever
  • Birthday: June 29, 2012
  • Favorite things: going for rides to camp and hiking on cross country ski trails in the winter
Wildpup Rosie


Handler’s name: Jo Foley

  • Breed: Mini Australian Shepherd
  • Birthday: November, 3, 2014
  • Favorite things: supervising the neighborhood and being near and on humans
WIldpup Clara


Handler’s name: Steve Reese

  • Breed: Yorkie mix with long hair Chihuahua
  • Birthday: April 10, 2013
  • Favorite things: people and motorcycles
Wildpup Mo


Handler’s name: Jo Garrish

  • Breed: English Cocker
  • Birthday: December 6, 2013
  • Favorite things: people, toys, food, and being a championship show dog
Wildpup Franklin


Handler’s name: Mary Lee Kirkum

  • Breed: English Springer Spaniel
  • Birthday: June 14, 2013
  • Favorite things: Carrots and stuffed toys
Wildpup Madison


Handler’s name: Keena Jones

  • Breed: Golden Retriever
  • Birthday: November 24, 2019
  • Favorite things: walks, going to school, and playing with my ball
Stanley Wildpup


Handler’s name: Wendy Beach

  • Breed: German Wirehaired Pointer/Border Collie Mix
  • Birthday:
  • Favorite things: herding sheep, traveling, carrying firewood, and snuggling
Wildpup daisy


Handler’s name: Kelly December

  • Breed: Bernese Mountain Dog
  • Birthday: August 6, 2015
  • Favorite things: Sleeping, going for rides, and Culver’s ice cream
Otto Wild Pup


Handler’s name: Naomi Noordyk- Piirala

  • Breed: Border collie
  • Birthday: 12/24/20 /
  • Favorite things: running, cuddles, and blueberries 
Dwight Wild Pup


Handler’s name: Katie Miedona

  • Breed: Golden-border-doodle
  • Birthday: 7/1/2019 /
  • Favorite things: running, playing with friends, belly rubs 

Future Wildpups

Wildpup Seneca


Handler’s name: Michelle Andriacchi, NMU Nursing Professor and Dominic Andriacchi, NMU Political Science Professor

  • Breed: German Shepherd
  • Birthday: October 7, 2019
  • Favorite things: Spikey balls, fetch, treats, following mom and dad, hiking, playing in the water, and playing “find it”
Wildpup Luna


Handler’s name: Katie Taylor, NMU Nursing Professor

  • Name: Luna
  • Breed: Golden Retriever
  • Birthday: July 11, 2016
  • Favorite things: Her blankie, chasing tennis balls, and watching people walk by her house
Wildpup Bravo

Bravo Foxtrot

Handler’s name: Kendall Fladung, NMU Nursing Technology Center Superviso

  • Breed: Golden Retriever
  • Birthday: May 14, 2021
  • Favorite things: Run, swim, paddle board, and eat
WIldpup Ben


Handler’s name: Lori Nelson , NMU Speech, Language, Hearing Science Professor

  • Breed: Miniature Poodle
  • Birthday: July 29, 2018
  • Favorite things: Chasing squirrels, watching the neighbors, his sister who is a cat, and playing hide-and-seek with his mom
Wildpup Willow


Handler’s name: Tara Schaffer, NMU Student success specialist

  • Breed: Mini Goldendoodle
  • Birthday: February 26, 2021
  • Favorite things: visiting with friends, hikes, playing with sticks and tennis balls, and swimming in Lake Superior
Wildpup Rusy


Handler’s name: Carol Johnson, NMU Dean of the College of Business

  • Breed: Shih Tuz
  • Birthday: March 4, 2015
  • Favorite things: Walks, playing with toys, cuddling, and swimming in Lake Superior
Wildpup Myla


Handler’s name: Sara Potter, NMU Communication and Media Studies Professor

  • Breed: Labrador and English Springer
  • Birthday: December 18, 2018
  • Favorite things: hikes and bike rides with her family, playing fetch, swimming, and snuggling in her chair
Poncho Widpup


Handler’s name: Hilary Rinsland, NMU Biology Graduate Student

  • Breed: Blue Heeler
  • Birthday: July 4, 2014
  • Likes: long walks on the beach, playing with his cat friend, Kiki, and sleeping in. 

Contact Information


  • If you are an NMU employee interested in becoming a Wildpup team with your dog please contact Michelle Andriacchi:
  • If you are interested in volunteering at Wildpup events please contact Casey Hopper: