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The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Seven campus dogs to brighten your ruff day

Photo by Shirley Liu for The Lafayette
Professors Annemarie Exarhos and Christopher Hawley’s dog Penny is the physics department’s unofficial mascot.

A stroll across the Quad reveals that Lafayette’s campus is home to many four-legged friends. These dogs, many of whom belong to faculty and staff, are as commonly spotted on a sunny day as a frisbee or Spikeball set. These seven dogs regularly brighten up students’ days with a quick wag of the tail.

Jack the Math Dog

One of Jack’s favorite places to hang out is on Pardee’s benches. (Photo by Shirley Liu ’23 for The Lafayette)

Like many members of the class of 2023, this is Jack the Math Dog’s fourth year at Lafayette.

“He came in right when he was a baby,” Jack’s owner and mathematics department secretary Jayne Trent said. “So he’s literally grown up at Lafayette.”

Jack, who is a Labradoodle, isn’t the department’s first canine mascot. “We have a strong math dog tradition,” Trent said.

Former math professor Art Gorman used to bring his Border Collie Maggie to work. “Students loved her. They absolutely loved her,” Trent said of Maggie. “[Gorman] felt that she made him seem more approachable … And she was here for 17 years.”

When Gorman died, Trent took care of Maggie. Then, when Maggie died, Trent chose a Math Dog successor in Jack.

According to Trent, her office becomes very busy during exam seasons because of the dog.

“He gets constant attention before and after exams. He’s very busy because he is comforting and he calms people,” Trent said. “I come in sometimes and there are students sitting under my desk with him, there are students spread out on the floor.”

“We think we are the best department on campus and we have the best dog on campus — nothing against other dogs … He’s a humanizing part of our department — not that we need humanizing,” Trent said.


Absu is named after a metal band due to a habit of simultaneously whining and barking. (Photo by Emma Sylvester ’25 for The Lafayette)

According to Trent, one of Jack’s best dog friends on campus is Absu, visiting assistant professor of computer science Jon Dahl’s five-year-old Shih Tzu-Chihuahua mix.

“He met Jack when Jack was just a puppy,” Dahl said of Absu. “And so even though Jack is significantly larger than him, Absu is the alpha in that relationship … Every once in a while Absu gets annoyed with him and then he barks and Jack kind of cowers.”

Absu’s unique name has a musical origin.

“When we first got him as a puppy, he had a weird habit where he would whine and bark at the same time. And we thought he sounded like a bad metal band, so we named him after one,” Dahl said.

To the delight of most students, Dahl usually brings Absu to his classes.

“He’s very sociable and fun and lightens my day. As long as no students have any problems, he can come in class and hang out,” Dahl said. “And sometimes he reminds me about small technical points that I’m forgetting.”

Penny the Physics Dog

Penny also has an Instagram account: @penny_physics_dog. (Photo by Shirley Liu ’23 for The Lafayette)

Four-year-old mutt Penny the Physics Dog would likely object to Trent’s claims that Jack is the best canine department mascot.

“She’s kind of the unofficial mascot of the department now,” owner and assistant professor of physics Annemarie Exarhos said of Penny. “She’s even got a picture up on the wall of majors — but she’s only taken a few classes.”

Exarhos adopted Penny with assistant professor of physics Christopher Hawley.

“This is our fifth year at Lafayette,” Exarhos said of herself and Hawley. “We got her halfway through our first year.”

According to Exarhos, students are probably more familiar with Penny than they are with her, but she doesn’t mind.

“It is funny because people don’t say hi to me when we cross campus anymore,” Exarhos said. “Like, I get a little smile, but it’s always like, ‘Hi, Penny.’”

Exarhos appreciates Lafayette’s dog-friendly campus because this means that she can bring Penny to work whenever she’d like.

“She’s a big part of my life now and Professor Hawley’s life and I think probably the life of most people in the physics department since they have to deal with her every day,” Exarhos said.

Although Penny is listed as a physics major, she isn’t totally familiar with every aspect of the subject.

“She can catch a ball pretty well. So, like, her intuitive physics isn’t bad … She’s not very good at lab sections. Terrible,” Exarhos said.

In addition to the hallways of Hugel, Penny can also be found on Instagram at @penny_physics_dog.

Vashti and Ozni

Vashti is named after a Persian queen. (Photo by Emma Sylvester ’25 for The Lafayette)
Ozni is named after the Hebrew word for ears. (Photo by Emma Sylvester ’25 for The Lafayette)

Associate dean of advising and co-curricular programs Julia Goldberg is another Lafayette employee who appreciates Lafayette’s dog-friendly campus.

“I’m glad that Lafayette allows us to bring the dogs,” Goldberg said. “I really didn’t know what I was going to do once there was nobody else at home to take care of them.”

Goldberg owns a 10-and-a-half-year-old Pomeranian named Vashti and an 11-year-old Italian Greyhound-Chihuahua mix named Ozni. Similar to Absu, their names also have a unique origin.

“Vashti was a Persian queen, and she was axed by her spouse for having a mind of her own … This little girl has a mind of her own so it was perfect,” Goldberg said. “Ozni is short for … ‘ears’ in Hebrew.”

Although Vashti and Ozni are not huge fans of the other dogs on campus, Goldberg said that their favorite part of Lafayette is “being here and being with the students.”


Mac attends most of chemistry professor Justin Hines’ classes. (Photo by Emma Sylvester ’25 for The Lafayette)

Chemistry professor Justin Hines usually brings to classes his 12-year-old dog Mac, who is a mix of German Shepherd, pitbull, Labrador and Boxer. According to Hines, this is a necessity because Mac suffers from severe separation anxiety.

“Mac … came from a bad place, and that was evident when we rescued him,” Hines said. “Eventually it became clear, the best solution was for him to just stay with me as long as I could make that okay with my colleagues and with the students. So I still ask permission to bring him to classes for my students, but he basically just comes with me everywhere that I go.”

Hines is another person grateful for Lafayette’s dog-friendly campus.

“I’m thankful that the campus is a dog-friendly environment and people are permissive to having dogs around. I’m very thankful that I’m allowed to bring him to campus,” Hines said.


Choo most enjoys getting attention from students. (Photo by Shirley Liu ’23 for The Lafayette)

College Writing Program coordinator Emma Hetrick regularly brings to work her six-year-old black pug Choo. She said that Choo has a tendency to brighten up students’ days.

“Students will stop and ask to pet her. And I can tell that or they told me that like, she made their day,” Hetrick continued. “So I just feel like it’s good for everybody to have a dog around.”

While some other dogs are happiest when they’re running around the Quad, Choo most enjoys receiving cuddles and attention from everyone on College Hill.

“I think she likes all the attention. I think she’s cute, and she knows it,” Hetrick said. “And she likes that she can be pet by multiple people throughout the day.”

“We’re both happy that we can both be here every day,” Hetrick said.

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About the Contributors
Shirley Liu
Shirley Liu, Managing Editor
Shirley Liu manages, edits, and manages edits.
Emma Sylvester
Emma Sylvester, Photo Editor

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