When nine-month old golden retriever Bugatti enters his Spanish 427 class, he is the star of the show. Bugatti is the class’s self-proclaimed “social butterfly” and spends the majority of his class time moving from person to person, greeting each of his classmates. Though he is only a puppy, he has a firm handshake.
“He has some Spanish flavor to his personality,” said his senior co-handlers Sydney Richards and Nancy Giesel, who escort him to class each week.
When he is not stealing the hearts of the upper-level Spanish students, Bugatti is usually spending time outdoors, or making friends around campus. According to his handlers, his favorite activities are hiking, rolling in the mud, eating snow and watching squirrels from the window.
Giesel and Richards share Bugatti with Lauren Elwell, who is also a senior. During their time with Bugatti, they have established many family traditions, such as singing to Bugatti each morning. His favorite song is his namesake: “woke up in my new Bugatti.”
Bugatti is the second 4Paws dog that Giesel and Richards have fostered, but Elwell is new to the program. She has found it to be an enjoyable and rewarding experience.
“I’ve never had a dog before and was a little nervous on how to be a dog mom, but the support of 4Paws has made this experience wonderful,” Elwell said. “4Paws does a fantastic job making sure we are getting the help we need in any situation. You can ask the people at 4Paws anything at any time and they’re more than willing to help!”
Elwell, Giesel, and Richards said watching Bugatti overcome his fear of kids made them proud dog moms.
“Whenever he gently approaches a human short than three feet, we are the proudest moms around,” Elwell said.
It seems Bugatti is wise beyond his years. His handlers describe him as a gentle old man, and say that he has a sweet and polite personality. They are confident that this gentleness will make him an excellent service dog.
“His family will be extremely lucky to have an awesome buddy like Boo,” Elwell said. “With that, he’s making it hard us when the time comes to take him back to 4Paws. But it’s comforting to know that he is truly a best friend and that our service doesn’t end when he moves on from Witt.”