Faculty, staff and their furry friends: The perfect antidote for a ruff day
Web/Social Media Editor
It’s common to run into a friend or a familiar face when out and about on campus. This is part of what makes Bethel so special. Often these encounters generate contagious smiles; especially if they involve four-legged friends!
Faculty are occasionally seen on campus alongside their furry friends, whether on walks around the green, in a residence building or even in the classroom! As a resident on campus, Coordinator of Residence Life and Student Life Operations, Chywonna Gonzalez, is frequently seen with her dog, Tips.
“My kids walk her around campus, but she can be seen mostly by Voth or leaving for the parking lot. I take her off campus for most of her daily exercise,” Gonzalez said.
Tips is a german shepard/blue heeler mix and a Halloween pup! She will be turning four years old this Halloween. Tips got her name because she had white fur on her feet and the tip of her tail as a puppy.
“She is smart, friendly and runs very fast. Tips believes that everyone is excited to see her, but sometimes she can escape and find her way to get some attention from students,” Gonzalez said.
Another dog on campus is Olive, a friendly labrador whose owner is Doug Siemens, associate professor of education and director of elementary education.
“She’s five and still acts like a puppy. She comes from Black Kettle Retrievers near Halstead. Amy Ross is the breeder and does a great job of ethically and humanely breeding high quality retrievers for hunting. Sometimes things happen though, and Olive came from an ‘oops batch’ where they weren’t sure who the father was, so she could not be sold as a registered lab with papers,” Siemens said.
Olive is said to be a big supporter of Bethel athletics! She especially enjoys the tennis and cross country teams.
“She is a huge fan of Bethel Tennis, although she lacks an opposable thumb and has never played. About once a month she loves to go on walks along the Sand Creek side of the tennis courts and find tennis balls. Last Sunday she found 23 lost tennis balls, which is very exciting for her,” Siemens said.
Students often request to see Olive more frequently, especially when filling out class evaluations.
“She loves to come and say hi to all of the students. She really likes the carpeted floor in the Will Academic Center because she can get excellent traction and show off her extreme zoomies speed,” Siemens said.
For those who are more involved in the sciences, Einstein is a friendly face sometimes sighted in KSC. Nicknamed Einsteinium the Barbarian, Einstein is a 13.5-year-old lab and he is a momma’s boy! If he isn’t on Professor of Chemistry and Physics, Katy Layman's lap, then he is at her feet wishing he was in her lap! Despite his age, Einstein enjoys activities such as swimming, hiking, agility, tugging, retrieving his ball and even playing hide and seek with his toys.
“He is a picky eater for a labrador; he does not like french fries, but sometimes will eat them so his brothers and sister don't get more,” Layman said.
Layman believes that bringing Einstein to class helps relieve homesickness for those that miss their dogs.
“Pets can also be a stress reliever, so one of my favorite times to bring my dogs is when there is an exam scheduled to help students reduce their test anxiety,” Layman said.
Another canine spotted on campus is Coordinator of Residence Life, Larry Rice’s pup, Bailey. Bailey is a six-year-old rescue from California.
“One of my RAs actually said that he had worked with this fostering organization before, where different puppies and dogs and cats would stay with different foster families, so he connected me with that organization,” Rice said.
Bailey is fun and friendly, but she’s not always very social.
“Most of the students are excited to see her and they try to get her to come, but of course, she’s pretty independent, so sometimes she’ll go up and make friends and other times she’ll be like ‘ehh nah’. She definitely gets along better with women than with guys. Guys have to work a lot harder to make friends with Bailey,” Rice said.
When Bailey isn’t interacting with students, she really enjoys running around, chasing grasshoppers and cicadas outside.
“When the cicadas were out earlier, she would literally just go and munch on them. She loved them. She would eat like three or four of them on every walk. She would just catch [one], and it was kind of like she had Pop Rocks candy...she would literally just carry it in her mouth and let it just buzz there for a while and then she would finally chomp down and eat it,” Rice said.
These furry friends on campus bring smiles to many faces, and Siemens points out one reason he believes people may benefit from having dogs around.
“Dogs, especially labradors, show us what unconditional love looks like. We all need love and good role models. Remember it’s never too late to be the person your dog believes you to be!” Siemens said.