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ISSUE 117 VOL 16 PUBLISHED 4/23/2004

Faculty-owned dogs reign

By Jean Mullins
Executive Editor

Friday, April 23, 2004

When students come to college, they must not only leave their families behind, but they must also say goodbye to beloved family pets. Pets are a part of life that many students miss while attending college. Thankfully, many St. Olaf faculty members are more than willing to share their pets with the students by bringing their furry friends to school.

"This is a community, not work. It is sharing an extension of my personal life," philosophy Professor Charles Taliaferro said of bringing his dog, Tiepolo, a sheltie, to work with him.

Other faculty members say that their experiences and relationships with students become more personal and open when they bring their dogs to work. Associate professor of art and art history Mary Griep believes that by having her dog, Rowsby Woof, a golden retriever, at work with her, she has an opportunity to talk to more students as they stop and pet her dog. "Students miss dogs and kids," Griep said. "They love to have pets around."

Former student Kyle Carson `00, who brings his dog, Inu, a Brittany, to work in the dance and art department, says he remembers seeing dogs on campus when he was a student. "Students loved it when professors brought their dogs," Carson said. "It can be a huge stress relief."

Such stress relief doesn't apply solely to the student body; St. Olaf professors find the presence of dogs on campus equally beneficial. "I feel sort of empty when he's not here," Carson said of Inu. Taliaferro also says he brings Tiepolo to work with him because "I love him and can't bear to be without him.

Other professors have found that bringing their pets to work has provided a much-needed opportunity to get outside  and get some exercise. "It is an excuse to get up, go for a walk and get out of the building," Griep said.

The dogs around campus have friendly personalities that make them suitable for socializing with students. The dogs are basically well-behaved, and there have been few -- if any -- horror stories of dogs jumping on important visiting VIPSs and the like. Carson said Inu occasionally jumps on students, and Griep said Rowsby Woof once peed on the wall. But for the most part, these dogs are just being dogs.

Some campus dogs even accompany their masters to class. For instance, Taliaferro takes Tiepolo to class and lets him interact with students. Carson's Inu eagerly greets art and dance students as they pass by.

There are even a few dogs around campus with special histories and talents. Griep and her family acquired Rowsby Woof -- named after the dog in the book "Watership Down" -- while visiting Thailand. Rowsby still knows many of his commands in Thai, where he underwent all of his obedience training.

Taliaferro's furry companion is named after the 18th-century Italian painter, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. Taliaferro's wife (and former St. Olaf Art Professor) Jill Evans gave Tiepolo his stately title. Tiepolo, Taliaferro reports, has an extensive vocabulary and knows all the names of his toys.

"Tiepolo also emulates a human-like role with other dogs," said Taliaferro He apparently throws balls for other dogs, takes them for walks and even breaks up the occasional dogfight. "He is like a little chaplain," Taliaferro said.

Inu is a Brittany -- a breed known commonly as "pointers" and one traditionally used for hunting. Carson reports that occasionally, when Inu sees a bird, he will lift one paw up and point; he and his wife are trying to encourage this curious behavior.

Other than that, Inu is still working on mastering his basic commands. His favorite command? "'Heel' is his favorite," Carson said. "He gets really excited about heel."

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