Meet Pepper, MATC’s newest best friend

Emotional support dog can help reduce stress and anxiety among students, faculty and staff

Mark Feldmann,

August 22, 2022

Pepper emotional support dog

MILWAUKEE – If you’re having a “ruff” day, Pepper is here to help you stay “pawsitive.”

Four-legged, furry and about a foot long, Pepper joined Milwaukee Area Technical College’s Student Accommodation and Interpreting Services on August 11 as a registered emotional support dog and soon-to-be therapy dog.

As a support animal, Pepper will help reduce stress, anxiety and depression among students and employees. Research studies have shown positive psychophysiological and psychosocial benefits from holding, stroking or simply being with an animal. 

We recently caught up with Pepper and asked her about her new role, her background and her future plans.

How did you find out about MATC?

I learned about MATC in January, when Carla Eichelberger, MATC’s director of Student Accommodation and Interpreting Services for the past two years, brought me to her home in Milwaukee. She told me all about her job, and the college sounded like a great place to work. I thought I could really help out.

What will your duties and responsibilities entail at MATC?

As MATC’s first authorized emotional support animal, I will be counted on to reduce stress, lower anxiety, calm nerves, alleviate loneliness and put as many smiles on as many faces as I can. I know homework and tests can cause all sorts of anxiety for students — the stress level can hit 10! I know work can pile up for faculty and staff. Everyone needs a break, and I will be there to provide some relief.

What skills do you have that make you good for this role?

For one, I’m as cute as a button! I am extremely friendly. I love belly rubs, I am very personable and I am well-behaved. I bark sometimes, but in short yips. People seem excited to see me and want to pet me, hold me, cuddle me, walk me and talk to me. The most important characteristic for my job is temperament. A good emotional support animal must be friendly, patient, confident, gentle and at ease in all situations. 

Where are you located on campus?

I’m hoping to get my own office someday, but until then I can usually be found at the Student Accommodation and Interpreting Services office, which is Room C219 at the Downtown Milwaukee Campus, or in the director’s office, Room C298. If I get tired, I can be found either sprawled on top of her desk or underneath it.

How do you plan on reaching MATC students and employees?

Anyone interested in seeing me should email Student Accommodation and Interpreting Services at to set up a session. I can visit meetings or you can come see me. For students, we’re going to decide what times I can be available and post a schedule at the Student Accommodation and Interpreting Services (Room C219) front entrance.  

How long can students and employees meet with you?

It depends. For one-on-one sessions, between 10 and 15 minutes usually does the trick. In the future, employees might be able to take turns taking me for walks around the campus.

Have you met any students or employees yet?

Yes! I met MATC’s sign language interpreters at their first meeting of the school year. They loved meeting me. I gotta say, I think I helped change the whole mood of the meeting. But that was just me doing what I do best. I can’t wait for the Fall semester to start!

How do you like the Downtown Milwaukee Campus?

I love it! Almost every day I walk around the grounds, usually on Eighth Street and Highland Avenue. I have a very cool collar and a very cool leash. But I do need some MATC spiritwear. I don’t think the Bookstore has anything for me yet.

Where are you from originally?

I was born and raised in Iowa. My birthday is July 4, 2021 – yes, I was born on the Fourth of July. My zodiac sign is Cancer, which means I’m devoted, cautious, perceptive, and have a loving disposition. I’m also a Cairnpoo, a mix of two small-sized breeds: the cairn terrier and the miniature poodle. Cairn terriers are vermin hunters, while poodles make good companions. Thanks to my parents’ genes, I am affectionate and have a cheerful disposition. 

What is your educational background?

I am already a registered emotional support animal, registered with American Service Pets. So I guess you could call me Pepper, ESA. I am currently undergoing training at Pets Helping People to become an official therapy dog. I should complete that training by October. 

What do you do for fun and on the weekends?

I spend nights and weekends with my bestie, Carla. She makes sure I get to work every day during the week. She also keeps me from getting too hungry or thirsty. I love hanging out with her. But she needs to buy more Bully Sticks. I can’t get enough of those things.

Wisconsin’s largest technical college and one of the most diverse two-year institutions in the Midwest, Milwaukee Area Technical College is a key driver of southeastern Wisconsin’s economy and has provided innovative education in the region since 1912. More than 25,000 students per year attend the college’s four campuses and community-based sites or learn online. MATC offers affordable and accessible education and training opportunities that empower and transform lives in the community. The college offers more than 170 academic programs; and transfer options leading to bachelor’s degrees with more than 40 four-year colleges and universities. Overwhelmingly, MATC graduates build careers and businesses in southeastern Wisconsin. The college is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.