Ilsa Epling on campus

It’s the People—and Their Pets: Meet the Furry Fellows of Hillsdale

Written by Crystal Schupbach


After giving their house, “The Boondocks,” a good fall cleaning, Carson Waites suggested to his five roommates that they should consult Craigslist for a special something to make their new house a home. They wanted a kitten, and now they have an affectionate one named Essy who has a corkscrew tail and walks with a slight limp.

According to roommate Max Stirton, Essy came dewormed and spayed—“batteries included.” She has already claimed his only good blanket.

For the boys of the Boondocks, Essy is a “crowd pleaser,” although sometimes she contradicts this by hiding when there is company.

Max loves the newest addition to the house, even though he is technically allergic to cats. He said that having a cat has taught him and his roommates a lot of things, first and foremost, patience. His housemates agreed.

Erik and Freja

Essy is not the only furry friend on campus. Erik and Freja are a pair of kittens who catch the eyes of students by sporting blue and pink sweaters when they are walked by their owner, Ilsa Epling, on campus.

Ilsa, a 2018 graduate of Hillsdale College who is taking a few classes at the College currently due to becoming sick her senior year, took in these sibling kittens at the beginning of the school year. She adopted them from one of her tenants, who was handed them in a cardboard box on her way back to Hillsdale from Oregon. They had been rescued from a ditch at only a few weeks old.

“I gave my little vikings strong names from my heritage to help them overcome their rough start in life,” Ilsa said.

She added that adopting the kittens was a huge benefit in her recovery, mentioning that “taking care of them helps me to remember to take care of myself.”

Ilsa even has an instagram for her kittens: @viking_kitties2.


Senior Isabelle Parell said she also has a special pet who has helped relieve her stress and helped with her health. She adopted her one-and-a-half year old lab/great dane mix named Halpert last August from the Branch County Humane Society, and she said he quickly became her best friend.

Isabelle noted that many people tell her seeing Halpert is the highlight of their day. She often brings him to Checker Records Coffee Shop, where dogs are allowed and loved. Halpert is always rewarded for his good behavior with an ice cube as a treat.

Halpert has a personality, and social life, of his own. He even has a girlfriend in town—a yellow lab named Bella, whom he visits at Checker Records.

Isabelle grew up in a family of veterinarians, which is convenient when she needs advice about her dog. While she grew up with horses, she said there is something special about having Halpert.

“I’ve never had a dog or cat that was really mine,” Isabelle said. “I love that Halpert is mine to train and love because he responds to me best, and we have a deep bond.”

If you are looking to brighten your day, simply keep an eye out for your fellow Hillsdalians and their furry friends.

Crystal SchupbachCrystal Schupbach, ’20, is a Michigan native studying psychology and journalism. A few of her favorite things include dogs, summertime concerts, and garage sales–in that order.

Published in February 2019