Montclair State University’s mascot, Rocky the Red Hawk, has a new best friend.
On Thursday, February 23, Rocky and his team of student handlers were invited to University Hall to meet a special (and secret) guest – a puppy named Pebbles. Excitement and laughter filled the room as Pebbles the Pupscot (puppy mascot) made her entrance.
Pebbles will join Rocky in spreading Red Hawk pride on campus.
“I think having a puppy mascot is such a great addition to Montclair State University,” says Team Rocky member Chaz Campbell, a senior Journalism major. “Dogs are so welcoming, and Pebbles will be the perfect ambassador for Montclair especially for those who aren’t familiar with how welcoming the University can be.”
Dogs visit the University for stress management and emotional support programming once or twice a semester, usually before midterms or finals. “A goal of having Pebbles on campus year-round is to bring joy to students who miss their four-legged friends back home and those who could use an emotional pick-me-up,” says Cindy Meneghin, director of Student Communications. “When Pebbles is a year old, she will be able to be trained as a therapy dog,” says Meneghin, who coordinated getting Pebbles and brought her to meet Rocky and the students, all of whom will be trained in handling Pebbles. “We want the students to know that there will be ‘rules of engagement.’”
“Meeting Pebbles was so much fun, and our spirits were definitely lifted,” says Kyle Kennedy, a graduate student in English Education. “I can’t wait to see her around campus more!”
Thea Dyer, assistant director for Residence Life – Facilities and Pebbles’ “mom,” shares how it’s been having a puppy on campus.
“In the short time that she has been with us, she has brought such joy and excitement to the entire campus community,” Dyer says. “As she comes to work in the Office of Residence Life daily, she has genuinely brought such a positive energy to our work environment. Whether you are a student, faculty or staff member, administrator or guest, she will bring a smile to your face and warm your heart.”
Pebbles is a mini chocolate labradoodle, born on November 1, 2022, and her “gotcha day” was February 17. She will live on campus with Dyer and will be seen around campus more as she adjusts to her new home.
Vice President for Student Development and Campus Life Dawn Meza Soufleris says the research is clear regarding the benefits of having canines on campus – “especially for the purpose of emotional support, providing a sense of belonging and as a method to reduce stress and anxiety.
“They can make a world of difference for a college community,” says Soufleris. “Our Pebbles will do just that: bring a feeling of “home” to our campus, and provide our students, faculty and staff some comfort during difficult times. In just a few short days, Pebbles is already making a difference. I could not be happier having her join the Red Hawk community! She already has won my heart!”
Story by Internal Communications Editor Brittany John.