Meet the University of Iowa Dog That’s the First of Its Kind in Big 10
I saw a picture of a dog on Facebook recently with the caption, "And God said, I will send them without wings so no one suspects they are angels." Members of the University of Iowa softball team now know that's the case.
That's Mali carrying the softball above. She was adopted by Erin Doud-Johnson, a volunteer assistant coach for the Hawkeye softball team. According to the University of Iowa, Erin got her from a breeder in Decorah who specializes in dogs that do therapy work.
Over an 18-month period, Mali and Erin worked together with a trainer so that Mali could be certified by the Alliance of Therapy Dogs. The training was successful and now certified, Mali is a full-time therapy dog at the University of Iowa. She's the first dog in the Big Ten Conference to carry that distinction.
Mali has actually been a teammate for a while, first making the roster, if you will, during the COVID pandemic. According to Iowa player Maggie Vasa, Mali "has a personal relationship with every team member", while the University of Iowa says she "can sense what each student-athlete needs that day, whether it's playtime at practice, support during a big game, or just space." Clearly, they love her.
Mali has become a pretty big deal... she even has her own book, written by Cedar Rapids author Mary Griffith Chalupsky. You can see the front and back of the book, available on Amazon, below. The University of Iowa says Erin and Mali plan to visit the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital to share the book with hospitalized kids.
This spring, there have been numerous suicides in women's college sports. Kudos to the University of Iowa for understanding the pressure on today's athletes and providing an important resource for their mental health.
Anyone going through a mental health crisis can call (855) 581-8111 or text (855) 895-8398. You can also chat online here.