‘The Big Dogs on Campus!’: Professors and their Pups

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By Victoria Cullinan

 

My dog’s name is Sirius Black (yes, after the Harry Potter character). He is a Lab/Old English Sheep Dog mix. I have been told, by a few people, that we look alike—which, I suppose, could be taken as a compliment?! I simply hope that it is due to the fact that my hair color is similar to his fur color,  or at least that’s what I’ve told myself. He is, by all accounts, an adorable and very sweet dog. He comes to campus from time to time to keep an eye on the rather large squirrel population and to do his part in its control; although, to date, he has not had much success in this endeavor.

Robyn Reed

Head of Access Services, Schaffer Library

 

Our two dogs are named Guaka and Mole, or guacamole. Mole comes from Oaxaca, Mexico, where we  lived for a year, and we got him as a tiny puppy from a lovely Mexican family outside a grocery store.  Mole negro is a chocolate sauce famous in Oaxaca, and usually is served over a tasty cooked chicken breast.   Our daughter felt that we needed another dog, and he had to be named Guaka, so nine years later, we got tiny (not even five pounds) Guaka. We got him the old-fashioned way: we bought him locally.  He just celebrated his one-year birthday. Their owners are Lori Marso and Tom Lobe, and our children, and the dogs are loved beyond measure.

Tom LobeProfessor of Political Science

 

I’ve had Riley since June of 2008.  My former Aussie, named Zuzu, died five weeks earlier at the ripe old age of 15.5 years, pretty old for a large dog!   I just couldn’t be without a dog despite the fact of my having four cats! Riley is four years old and has gone to obedience class (although you wouldn’t know it!) and an agility class.  He’s great at agility.  He has jumped onto my kitchen counter (ALL FOUR PAWS) three times that I know of!  These forays are all food-related.  He has an insatiable appetite.  He once tried to eat a shed snakeskin in my office.  He also ate a palm nut that was a gift from one of my students on her term abroad!He has a very interesting behavior of ‘talking.’  He often sounds like Scooby-Doo!  He greets people with a howl and sometimes launches into what I call Scooby vocalizations.  He’s a real trip!  Some of my students come and see me when they know Riley is with me.

Barbara PytelProfessor of Biology

 

Catie was a lab/shepherd mix, a tall, skinny black dog with floppy ears, a white ‘tuxedo’ blaze on her chest,  and a long, bushy tail that could clear a coffee table.   She was a people dog, which is to say that absolutely nothing made her happier than meeting someone and being petted.  You know how some dogs, when you take them for walks, are constantly looking for food scraps?  Instead, Catie would walk down the street looking around for people to say hello to.  And so, naturally, she loved coming in to campus with me for my office hours.  I didn’t bring Catie in to office hours every day, more like two or three times per term (I always made a particular point of asking my classes beforehand whether anyone was allergic or dog-phobic, just in case).  I kept a bed and a dog dish in my office for her.  She’d hang out with me, and get up from her dog bed and greet each student who stopped in for a paper conference or to ask an an advising question. If she could, she would have spent the entire day just wandering around the Humanities building, milking attention from people.  She was well known in the building.  One of the administrative assistants even kept a bag full of dog cookies especially for Catie’s visits.

Bringing Catie in involved some extra planning, and it curbed my flexibility to move around campus — in some ways it would have been a lot easier to leave her at home all the time.  So, you might wonder, why did I bother?  Well, for one thing, it made her ridiculously happy.  But it also had a remarkable effect on my students.   A lot of students have dogs at home, dogs they miss very much, and so seeing me as someone with a dog changed the way we interacted.  I think that, in this sense, Catie ‘humanized’ me.  She broke the ice: we immediately had something to talk about other than official business, and talking about our dogs helped us acknowledge each other as more than just professor and student.  With Catie in the room, we became two people with lives  outside the classroom.  (Plus, she was really good at helping students revise their papers.)

Kara Doyle                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Professor of English

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