By Katie Neitz, photos by Clay Wegrzynowicz

Lafayette’s dog-friendly environment means a dose of comfort and affection is never far away. Faculty and staff from around campus regularly bring their canine companions to work, giving students the opportunity to enjoy their company. Meet some of the most popular members of the campus community.


Penny (Physics)

Annemarie Exarhos and Chris Hawley, assistant professors of physics, adopted Penny last year, a few months after they joined the Lafayette faculty. Penny was initially shy, but the ongoing attention and affection from students has helped her adjust and feel at home in Hugel Science Center. Amelia Reilly ’22 and Jessica Landry ’22 spent every day with Penny this past summer while doing research in Exarhos’ and Hawley’s labs. ”She was timid at the beginning, but she’s gotten to know us, and she’s really friendly and so much fun,” Landry says. ”In high school, I wouldn’t have thought about pets being part of a college campus, but now that I’m here I feel like it’s such a great part of Lafayette. Seeing all the dogs makes me really happy.” Jordan Gusdorff ’20 adds, ”I love dogs and think they are great for helping with stress. I will go to Professor Exarhos’ office when I know Penny is there to get some dog time.”

Katie & Jackie (Computer Science)

Standard poodle sisters Katie, 8, and Jackie, 6, love computer science—or maybe it’s just computer science students. In either case, they are always eager to visit the Rockwell Science Center, where their owner, Joann Ordille, assistant professor of computer science, works. “The dogs have a great time here,” Ordille says. “Whenever they come to campus, they drag me from the car to the building.” Ordille even works them into her lessons. “In my intro class, we take a picture of Katie and we change it from color to black and white and make a checkerboard pattern with her. In my database class, we use a database that’s all about dogs and their appearance, and it features Katie and Jackie. They are my teaching assistants.”

Jack (Mathematics)

Jack is one of the newest additions to campus. Since September, the Labradoodle puppy has been making himself at home on the second floor of Pardee with the math department. Jack has a very important role: He’s helping to heal the hearts of students, faculty, and staff who are mourning the loss of Maggie, Jack’s beloved predecessor and the original Math Hound/Math Mascot, who passed away in June. Jack’s owner, Jayne Trent, is the department’s administrative assistant and encourages visitors. “I feel like Maggie sent Jack to us, Trent says. “He’s such a good boy. I feel so lucky.”

Franz, Arlo, and Maria (English)

Dogs are so important to Bianca Falbo she has incorporated them into her work. The associate professor of English and director of the First-Year Seminar (FYS) program teaches ”The Dog Course,” an FYS that explores the relationship between humans and dogs through a variety of disciplinary perspectives. Franz, Arlo, and Maria are regular guests in class, where they enjoy interacting with students. Her class has created the Dogs of Lafayette project, which features interviews and photos of Lafayette faculty and staff with their canine companions. Falbo also advises student members of the Dog House, who raise puppies for a local service dog organization.

Harper (Athletics)

It’s been said that a tired dog is a good dog. But tuckering out a high-energy puppy like 9-month-old Harper can be a tough task. Luckily, men’s soccer head coach Dennis Bohn has some help. Martin Sesseenaga ’21 and Julia Alves ’22 regularly visit the Labradoodle in Bohn’s Kirby Sports Center office and take her out for walks. ”I met Harper last spring when coach first got her,” says Sesseenaga, who is on the men’s team. ”I don’t have a dog at home, but I volunteered to help take care of her. She is very energetic. I like that a lot. When you aren’t having a great day, you go to see her, and she’s always happy. It brings up your spirit.” When Bohn and Sesseenaga are traveling to away games, Alves helps care for Harper. ”We walk around campus or hang out in my room,” she says. ”I love when she takes a nap in my room; when she wakes up, she’s so cuddly. I have a dog at home—I’ve had them my entire life. Hanging out with Harper is very much of a stress reliever.”

Absu (Computer Science)

Just how popular is Absu? ”Students have complained on their evaluations that I don’t bring him in as much as I should,” says owner Jon Dahl, assistant professor of computer science, of his 3-year-old chihuahua/shih tzu mix. Absu, named for the Sumerian god of fresh water, visits campus once or twice a week. Dahl says he makes a point to bring in Absu when students are prepping for an exam. ”If all the students are OK with it, I’ll let him wander around the room,” he says. ”His presence helps the students relax.” Trisha Agarwal ’20 appreciates Absu’s friendly energy. ”When I took cybersecurity, which is a really heavy theoretical course, there were times I felt confused and overwhelmed, and then I’d feel Absu brush up against my ankle, and I’d feel calmer. I always feel better when Absu is in the room.”

Checkers (Biology)

Emily Song ’22 always has something to look forward to each week: her Friday playdate with Checkers. Bob Kurt, professor of biology, brings his 10-year-old Labrador to his Rockwell Integrated Sciences Center office on Fridays. ”I had Professor Kurt for a lab last semester; I went to his office one day, and there was Checkers,” Song says. ”I usually spend an hour with him. We’ll go on a walk around campus. It’s a lot of fun. I just got an exam back in Professor Kurt’s class, and I’m feeling a little stressed. Seeing Checkers always makes me feel better.”

Lebowski (Academic Planning)

You can call him The Dude or His Dudeness or Duder or El Duderino, if you’re not into the whole brevity thing. But his formal name is Lebowski. The 8-year-old Olde English Bulldogge is often curled up on a cozy leopard-print bed in the office of Millie Smith ’10, academic planning programs coordinator. She works on the first floor of Pardee, right by the copy room, a high-traffic area where Lebowski attracts his share of visitors during his visits to campus. ”He is so mellow, but he gets really excited when he gets to have a campus day,” Smith says. ”He is definitely a people dog. Students always approach us when we are walking on campus. I often hear how they miss their dogs at home and how it makes their day to see him.”

Piper (Biology)

Meet Piper, or hyper Piper, as Elaine Reynolds, professor of biology, refers to her full-of-energy Rhodesian Ridgeback mix. Piper was a shelter dog whom Reynolds rescued about a year ago. She joins Reynolds in her Rockwell Integrated Sciences Center office on Fridays. ”She was a stray in Georgia and severely underweight; now she’s so healthy and happy,” Reynolds says. ”A few students visit her here in my office, and some come and take her for walks. Students just love her, and Piper loves people. She’s really become part of the Lafayette family.”

Finn & Chief (Bailey Health Center)

Sarah Bender ’21 knows where to go when she needs a pick-me-up. She visits the canine residents of Bailey Health Center. Finn and Chief are bundles of energy—and affection. The Labradors are two of the five Bailey dogs; Bailey staff members bring their pets to the center, recognizing the positive impact their presence has on students. Finn and Chief are littermates; their mom, Raven, is also a health center regular. Their job is to provide comfort to students whether they are seeking a strep test or a stress break. ”The hardest part of leaving home for college was leaving my dog behind,” says Bender, a neuroscience major, who takes the dogs out for walks a few times a week. ”Having access to the dogs has given me the ability to find joy in my day. Being with them feels like my safe space.”