By MARIA SMITH
What is it that makes people love their dogs so much? Is it the drool? The noise? The cost of getting rid of fleas? Of course, the answer is that despite any of these things, all dogs offer something invaluable and rare — unconditional love. And no dogs get more love in return than the six living in dorms on Notre Dame campus.
Between lonely freshmen looking for a friend and older students missing their own puppies, the dorm dogs get plenty of attention. The entire campus knows and loves these furry friends.
Anyone who lives with a dog long enough begins to talk to their pet like a little person. Dogs are very much like little people -- they have their own tastes, favorite pastimes, and personalities. Here at Notre Dame, our dogs represent all different aspects of the dog spectrum.
What's the most recognizable face on campus? Father Hesburgh? Father Malloy? How about Farley? The little light brown Pekingese can be seen almost every warm day lying outside on the grass or stretching her leash across the sidewalk looking for bits of bologna sandwiches and other treats from students on their way back from North Dining Hall.
Farley has lived in Farley Hall since December 2000. Sister Carrine Etheridge took her in after she was found by the Notre Dame lakes in the cold with her little sister. Etheridge was initially a little reluctant to take her in, but by now the dog has become an institution of Farley Hall life.
Farley may appear lethargic at times while lying on the lawn but she wakes up for football games and parties like any Notre Dame girl. Farley has her own shirt for football games as well as a Notre Dame cheerleading outfit and loves running around the benches.
The girls dress her up for the dances, including a grass skirt and walnut shells for last year's luau. This year, she and her owner are going to Farley's "A Perfect Match" as Lady and the Tramp, which has yet to be announced. However, Etheridge does not trust her alone at parties since an incident that occurred last year.
"Those Siegfried boys," said Etheridge. "They had citrus vodka in squirt guns, and they squirted her… she came in licking her coat, and pretty soon she just passed out. I escort her to the dances now."
Farley is automatically popular around campus. "I go for walks, and it used to be, `Hi, Sister,'" said her owner. "Now it's, `Hi, Farley.'"
Despite living at a top university, Farley is not an intellectual animal. "She's not really God's brightest dog," said Etheridge. However, Farley has learned to sit, lie down, dance, and watch the door after parietals. "We're going to train her to detect boys," said Etheridge.
No one can walk into Fisher without running into Eli, Fisher's droopy-eared Basset Hound and Beagle mix. She's lived there since Nov. 4, 2001, when two doctors donated her to Father Rob Moss, hoping she would get more attention than at her old home.
The 2 1/2 year-old dog is quiet and complacent for her age, but she perks up at the word "outside." She loves to go for walks, and will play with McGlinn's dogs Lucy and Gus.
"Sometimes Gus will act all tough, like, `Oh, I'm the male,'" said owner Betsy Bright. "But Eli won't back down."
Nevertheless, Eli is usually a sleepy dog. "Friday night, one of the freshmen came from a party and asked to take her for a walk about midnight," said Moss. "So she went out and ran around. That was unusual for her… she slept most of the weekend after that."
Like any dog, Eli enjoys the treats residents bring her. She isn't a picky eater, and enjoys everything. "Once she stood up against the counter and pulled down an entire pineapple upside down cake," said Moss. "Another time, I was coming home … and some people ran up to me and told me she'd torn apart her bed and eaten some of it."
Eli can usually be found lounging across the stairs of Fisher Hall, but don't be intimidated. She likes to be petted, and she'll never bite.
Stanford Hall's Honey was the first dog to move into a dorm after the University ruled that rectors could have pets in the fall of 1999. Father Thomas Gaughan found her on a Golden Retriever rescue Web site and she first moved in March 2000. Honey recently returned from minor surgery at the vet, and can currently be recognized by her giant satellite dish collar and bald spots on her head and leg.
"She's smart; she's going to try to hide behind the chair and lick her stitches," said Gaughan as the dog walked around the apartment. "But I still see you, Honey."
Unlike her neighbor Farley, the 2 1/2 year-old Golden Retriever and Sheltie mix likes staying with her owner more than meeting and greeting on the quad "She likes hanging out with dad," said Gaughan.
Honey also loves going on trips and taking car rides. "She gets excited when she knows I'm getting ready to go out," said Gaughan. "If I ask her, `Can you stay here and watch the room?', her eyes droop and her head drops, like, `I'm not going, am I?'"
Like all the dorm dogs, Honey gets lots of treats from residents. "I've had residents send her home-baked dog cookies," said Gaughan. "I never get cookies, she always gets them."
Outside, Honey loves to chase chipmunks and rabbits and stalk squirrels. "She'll get down and sort of follow them before she chases them … when the squirrels go up a tree, she does what we call the `Honey dance,' sort of hopping around the tree and trying to climb it."
In the winter Honey sometimes wears reindeer antlers. "That's about the only time I dress her up," said Gaughan. "She runs around in the snow, and it's pretty funny to watch. During finals, it's a good stress relief."
Lucy and Gus
Lucy and Augustus, better known as Gus, are the newest dogs to the campus. Owner Betsy Bright almost did not take the job as rector of McGlinn when she heard that she could bring only one pet under 50 pounds. Lucy, a Black Labrador, weighs 68 pounds, and Gus, an Akita and Husky mix, weighs 102 pounds. After hearing about the dogs, Vice President for Student Affairs Father Mark Poorman made an exception to the rule and allowed them to stay. The dogs love their new home. "They're spoiled rotten and loving every minute of it," said Bright.
Lucy was seven months old when Bright's boyfriend's brother decided he couldn't keep the dog and needed to find her a new home. "Black Labs need a lot of attention," said Bright. "He didn't realize how much work she'd be." Gus, who was something of a miracle puppy, moved in a few months later.
Gus was born to a mother who had supposedly been spayed and was not breathing when he was born. He was small and the other puppies would not let him eat so he was hand-fed until Valentine's Day, when he moved in with his new family.
Lucy and Gus are inseparable now, but they weren't at first. "I used to take Gus to work with me every day," said Bright. "Lucy would try to eat him." Now, the dogs are almost always together, either curling up next to each other for naps or keeping an eye on each other outside.
Lucy and Gus used to accompany Bright when she volunteered as a minister of care in St. Norbert Parish in Chicago. Bright said her dogs always had enormous therapeutic value. "I think every dog has a potential to be empathetic and sympathetic to your every need," she said. "I've had girls come in here saying they've had a bad day, and they don't even want to talk about it. They just ask if they can sit here with the dogs for awhile. Twenty minutes later they get up and leave, and they feel a lot better."
Lucy and Gus are both active outside dogs. Lucy loves to swim and is a talented Frisbee player, while Gus helped Bright's brother Billy train for a marathon in Chicago. "I throw the Frisbee and she'll run out after it," said Bright. "She's like a wide receiver … I have to spell some words in front of them like w-a-l-k, or w-a-t-e-r, or definitely F-r-i-s-b-e-e. They're smart, they know a lot of words."
Unlike most dogs, Gus and Lucy's favorites treats are health food. They don't like lettuce, but they love baby carrots, peanut butter, green peppers and grapes. "Watching them eat grapes is hilarious," said Bright. "They don't want to break the skin of the grape and hurt it, and yet that's exactly what they want to do, because they want to eat it. It takes Gus about five minutes to eat a grape."
Gus has moved right into the dorm, occasionally barking at suspicious intruders such as new FedEx men. "You can see his white face in the window watching the lawn outside," said Bright. "We joke that he's watching the O'Neill boys, protecting our ladies."
Pangborn Hall's cocker spaniel, Telamon Ajax, was named after the Greek hero of the Iliad who engaged Hector in single combat and rescued Achilles' body from the Trojans. "He's a little wimpy dog," owner Heather Rakoczy said. "So he needed a big name."
Ajax had lived with Rakoczy for 5 years before he came to Notre Dame in 1998, the year before rectors were first allowed to keep pets. Rakoczy brought him to the dorm as soon as possible.
For the first year he lived in the dorm, Ajax barked at everything. "He thought it was his house, and that he had to protect it," Rakoczy said. Now he only barks at a few people. "Ajax is a parietals dog; he loves women, but he doesn't like men."
Ajax has never sniffed out boys after parietals, but he has caught other illegal intruders. "He used to go to this one door every time we went out," said Rakoczy. "Finally I knocked on it; it turned out the girl was keeping a cat in there."
Despite his brave name and brave bark, Ajax isn't an outgoing dog. "He likes Eli, and he likes Honey," said Rakoczy, "but he doesn't like every dog."
A dog of unusual tastes, Ajax prefers mint-flavored things like cough drops, gum and candy canes to dog treats. "Once last year he found one of those giant thick candy canes; he thought it was the find of the year," said Rakoczy. "I think the girls leave them around for him. All the dogs are really pretty spoiled.
"He's great company for me and the girls. I think it's a really smart things they let rectors have dogs."
All Scene Stories for Friday, September 20, 2002