Canine Connections

Simpson Colloquium SC 101 – Canine Connections

Second Chance Dog Rescue (in Prole, 20 minutes away from campus) works to find forever homes for dogs, and we will support this effort. Because dogs that are well behaved on a leash and can sit, stay, and come on command are more likely to be adopted, students in this class will spend 1.5 hours per week going in pairs to Second Chance to teach the dogs obedience and to assist in their care (walking dogs, cleaning cages, etc). We will study the theories of dog training/behavior and connect them to student learning. Dogs and people learn via operant conditioning, but people learn in other ways, too. We’ll explore how operant conditioning affects student behavior in college and also learn about other styles of learning: surface, strategic, and deep. Deep learning is making meaningful connections between the material you are learning and things you already learned. It feels good to form a bond with an animal, and making connections with ideas learned in class can be pleasurable, too.

Meet Your ProfessorSal Meyers

Sal Meyers, Ph.D

Professor of Psychology

I have a magnet on my refrigerator that reads “One paw away from becoming a crazy cat lady.” I currently have five cats: Zulu, Kaylahr, Belanna, Gowron, and Miral. Three of my current cats have health problems. Apparently, if you are a sad, sick, pathetic cat, mine is the doorstep you come to. Over the years I’ve learned to give cats injections and to give them subcutaneous fluids, a process that involves sticking a very large needle through the scruff on the cat’s neck and draining a tenth of an IV bag of fluid into the cat. Zulu curently gets fluids every evening.

Clearly I’m a cat person. So why am I teaching a course about dogs? I wanted to teach a course in which students engaged in service that helps make a positive difference in the world. Many Saturdays, my husband and I go to the Clarke County Animal Shelter to love up the cats there. Working with an animal shelter closer to campus struck me as an excellent idea, but working with dogs makes much more sense than working with cats. Dogs who have been taught basic commands (e.g., sit, stay, come) and who have good leash manners are more likely to be adopted and find their forever home. Training cats is possible, but much harder to do. My experience living with cats has taught me that cats are far more likely to train me than I am to train them!

Training dogs also lets me utilize some of my academic training. As a psychologist, I know how classical and operant conditioning contribute to learning. Although I am a psychologist, I am not a clinician. I have no background in therapy. I am actually a social psychologist. And my research doesn’t have anything to do with animals. For the past few years I’ve been studying hooking up and the similarities and differences between casual sex partners and committed romantic partners.

Note:  The photo of me was taking in my living room with my neighbor’s dog, Bailey.  Bailey and I are good friends. She isn’t allowed in my house very often because my cats consider that a serious invasion of their territory, so she was thrilled to get to come in for a photo shoot.

Meet Your SC Leader 

Hannah HillHannah Hill

Hey Everyone!

My name is Hannah Hill and I will be the SC Leader for Professor Sal Meyer’s Simpson Colloquium class, “Canine Connections.” I will be a sophomore for the 2014-2015 school year.

I am from a little town called Martensdale and I went to Martensdale St. Marys High School. If you have been researching the area around Indianola you might have came across it; it’s about a 10 minute drive from Simpson. When I was there, I was a varsity cheerleader and I was involved in National Honor Society.

Here at Simpson I am majoring in Elementary Education with endorsements in reading and social studies, and I am getting a minor in Psychology. I am in the Education Club and Alpha Lambda Delta. My first semester here at Simpson, I actually took this SC class! I loved it so much I decided I would get in on the fun for another year.

In my free time I like to read, watch Netflix, and hang out with friends. Some interesting things about me are that I can lick my elbow, I have been to seven foreign places, and my favorite movies are The Notebook and Rock of Ages. I can always be reached by email – – if you need to contact me with any questions and feel totally free to add me on Facebook. I am really looking forward to getting to know all of you and help you with your transition to Simpson!

Meet Your Writing Fellowmarissa

Marissa Belau


My name is Marissa Belau and I will be your Writing Fellow for Dr. Sal Meyers’ SC class, Canine Connections. I will be a junior for the 2014-2015 school year and am very excited to get to meet and work with all of you this coming fall.

I am from a small town in Minnesota called Rush City, where I live with my parents, younger brother and sister, 3 dogs, 4 cats, 3 rabbits, a bearded dragon and a tankful of fish.

Since coming to Simpson I have been involved in band, Residence Hall Association, Alpha Lambda Delta, Omicron Delta Kappa, Psi Chi, the Student Alumni Association, and Psychology Club. I am also a member of the Speech and Debate team and a Wesley Service Scholar who maintains a weekly volunteer position at Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines. Currently, I am a Psychology and Sociology double major with minors in Management and Women’s and Gender Studies. Needless to say, I like to stay busy!

In between classes, homework, and my work study job I love to read, listen to music, and watch movies with ‘the girls’. I like to consider myself an open and outgoing person and cannot wait to help you all make the transition to college life as painless and stress free as possible. If you have any questions about me, the SC class, or Simpson in general, DON’T HESITATE to look me up on Facebook or shoot me an email ( and ask! I look forward to getting to know all of you and meeting you in August!

Meet Your Service Learning Leader

Taylor SharpScreen Shot 2014-03-19 at 9.32.54 AM

Hi everyone!

My name is Taylor Sharp and I am the Service Learning Leader for “Canine Connections.” I am senior that will be graduating in December 2014. I am a psychology major with a management minor (yes, it is a weird combination). I am the president of Enactus (formerly known as SIFE), a Wesley Service Scholar, and work at IMU. I am from Kearney, Nebraska which does unfortunately mean that I am a Huskers fan. I have two adorable little brothers that are 10 and 7. I am pretty obsessed with them so you will hear lots about them next year.

I think that this class is going to be amazing! I might be slightly biased because I am an animal loving psychology major, but it will be interesting no matter what major you are. I have been working with animals my entire life, so I am thrilled to be assisting in the training and handling of the dogs.

I am also very excited to meet all of you so don’t hesitate to add me as a friend on Facebook or send me a message! Starting now, I am here for any questions, concerns, or comments that you might have. The transition to college is a major one, so as someone with experience in that area I am more than glad to help.


See you all soon!   ​


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