During finals season, therapy dogs often appear around the University of Richmond’s campus to help students de-stress. But on the second floor of Jepson Hall, "[it's] de-stress day pretty much every day,” said Barry Lawson, professor of computer science.
Meet Lilly, a 13-year-old chocolate lab. For 11 years, Lilly has come to work every day with Lawson, her human, Lawson said.
“It’s a real privilege to be able to bring your dog to the office,” Lawson said.
Lawson works to be respectful of the fact that some campus-community members might be afraid of or allergic to dogs, he said.
“I would not bring [Lilly] if she was destructive or rambunctious," he said. "She’s a rather timid dog. She’s not aggressive at all.”
In Lilly’s younger days, she and Lawson were known on campus for their frisbee-catching games that spanned Stern Quad, he said.
Now, Lilly enjoys lounging with students in the hallway outside Lawson’s office.
“I do have students who come ask computer science questions,” Lawson said. “[But] more often I have students who come by and say, ‘Can I pet your dog?’
“The number of times you would walk by my office and see students spending time with Lilly, or taking her across campus or writing me notes [about Lilly] ... I think demonstrates what a positive impact … a well-behaved dog can have.”
Unlike veteran Lilly, 4-month-old Bruce Wayne, a Staffordshire terrier rescue, is just getting his start at UR.
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Bruce belongs to Robin Mundle, the administrative coordinator for the rhetoric and communications studies department.
Mundle has always loved bully dog breeds – which range from Great Danes to bulldogs – so she knew she wanted a bully pup, she said.
“Luckily, the University of Richmond is a pet-friendly environment, and my department chair said that I could bring [Bruce Wayne] in,” Mundle said.
She wanted him to be surrounded by people so he’d become very social.
“Everybody loves him,” Mundle said. “And Bruce Wayne just loves it. His little tail just goes, and his little butt just wiggles and waggles.
"It makes the students happy, too, so that makes me happy. Everybody needs a dog lick once in a while.”
Bruce Wayne is in Mundle’s office on the fourth floor of Weinstein Hall at least three days a week, Mundle said. And as for visitors? “The more, the merrier,” she said.
Bruce Wayne is not the only bully puppy in Weinstein Hall, though.
This is Hamilton P. Wiggleton, according to his Instagram account, but he goes by Hamilton – no relation to the musical. He’s a 16-week-old French bulldog, his owner Marielle Jones said.
Jones is the administrative coordinator for the political science department, and Hamilton spends almost every day in her office on Weinstein Hall’s second floor.
“[Hamilton is] really laid back and really social, which is perfect in this environment," Jones said. "And he loves to snuggle.
"He sees a lot of students, and they love him. ... He loves it – he loves attention.”
Above is another French bulldog: 2-year-old Otis, belonging to associate theatre professor Johann Stegmeir.
Otis comes to campus every day Stegmeir does, he said.
“When [Otis] arrived to my home, he arrived to my second home, which is the University of Richmond," Stegmeir said. "He stays with me in the costume shop and in my office."
Otis even created a little fort for himself amidst the stored fabric under one of the tables in the costume shop and relaxes there when Stegmeir works long hours, Stegmeir said.
“We have students that visit the costume shop solely to visit Otis,” Stegmeir said. “He’s rather popular.”
Otis has become a surrogate pet for some students who have dogs back home, Stegmeir said. On the other hand, Otis is the first dog some of Stegmeir’s students have gotten to know and love.
“I feel very lucky that my pet accompanies me to work," Stegmeir said. "And it makes the long hours that I work seem a little less."
Of course, no one should discuss dogs on campus without mentioning UR-famous Leeloo, Westhampton College Dean Mia Reinoso Genoni’s 6-year-old Pekinese.
Leeloo has become an important member of the Westhampton Deanery community, Genoni said, and roams its second floor on a near-daily basis.
Genoni named Leeloo after Milla Jovovich’s character in the movie “The Fifth Element," Genoni said.
Genoni said Jovovich's Leeloo, an alien with red hair and thick, black eye makeup, resembled the Pekinese.
"Clearly the Pekinese looks like she was made by George Lucas," Genoni said.
The character Leeloo is also "very intelligent but surprisingly badass, like the Pekinese," and her "secret ingredient is love, [as with] the Pekinese," Genoni said.
"So, it’s a very well thought-out name."
The Pekinese were guard dogs of Chinese emperors because of their intelligence, and Leeloo always alerts Genoni if she thinks something is wrong or dangerous, Genoni said.
“[Leeloo is] a very silly, lovely, loving creature," Genoni said. "She was raised to sit on your lap and make you feel loved."
So, if you ever need a little more dog in your life, give these guys a visit. They have you covered.
Contact copy editor Addie Jo Quinlen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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