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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Staff and faculty pets bring comfort and community to campus

Illustration by Joyce Li
Luna, Fozzie, Banksy and Josie are some of the pets that NU staff and faculty bring to work.

Psychology Prof. Ben Gorvine, the Southwest Area’s faculty-in-residence, said he hosts about seven events at Willard Hall every quarter. Usually, he brings a special guest: Josie, a rescue dog who lives with Gorvine on campus. 

Gorvine adopted Josie in 2019, about a year after he moved into Willard. Many Willard residents know her for her extroverted personality and the barking that can sometimes be heard in the halls. 

“She would not be a very good guard dog because I think if somebody broke in, she would just go get them the ball and try to get them to play with her,” Gorvine said. “Which is OK — she’s not meant to be a guard dog.” 

Gorvine, who said he’s responsible for creating a welcoming environment in residential spaces, adopted Josie to help students feel more at home.

Gorvine is one of several faculty and staff whose pets regularly make an appearance on campus. Anthropology and Asian American Studies Prof. Shalini Shankar often brings Fozzie, her mini Goldendoodle, to her seminar classes. 

“She would just come in and visit everyone at all the desks, and then if anyone called her over after she’d come to them,” Shankar said. “Otherwise, she’d just find a spot on the floor and go to sleep.” 

Shankar said she first started taking Fozzie to her classes last year, when her husband started traveling more for work, because she didn’t want to leave her at home alone.

According to Shankar, Fozzie has become such a class staple that students have demanded to know where she is when Shankar didn’t bring her.

“The students really love when I bring her,” she said. “I’ll hear stories about their dogs and how much they miss them. It gets them talking about their dogs and I think it’s kind of comforting to them.” 

Shankar said having to take care of Fozzie at work helps her maintain a better work-life balance. Taking Fozzie on her daily walk forces Shankar to leave the office and go outside. 

“Sometimes I forget to take a break or I don’t have time,” Shankar said. “But I have to make time because she has needs and I’m the one to fulfill them.” 

Gorvine and Shankar both said they are careful about when and where they choose to bring their pets. Gorvine said he checks in with students before events in case anyone is anxious about dogs. Shankar said on days when she has to attend meetings or events, she asks her colleagues to help watch Fozzie.

One person Shankar sometimes entrusts with her dog is Asian American Studies Program Assistant Emily Mun, who has a dog of her own.

Luna, a Maltipom who has been living with Mun’s family since she was a puppy, can also be found in Mun’s office for a couple days each week. 

“Everyone loves her, and I think she knows it,” Mun said. “The phrase that I use a lot with my friends is, ‘it’s Luna’s world and we’re all just living in it.’”

Like Shankar, Mun began bringing Luna to work because she didn’t want to leave her at home. 

“My partner and I live together, but whenever I leave Luna at home with him, he’s always like, ‘she’s so sad,’” Mun said. “When she’s here, she’s a pain in my butt when she scratches things, but I think she gets more enjoyment out of seeing people and being out.” 

Mun shares an office with Latina and Latino Studies Program Assistant Silvia Toledo Enriquez, who brings her dog, Banksy, to work once a week. 

Enriquez said Banksy, a therapy dog in training, takes her job very seriously. Students often come to the office asking to spend time with Banksy, and Enriquez said Banksy is always happy to oblige. 

“There’s just like that little bit of extra joy in the (office) space and everyone seems to have a positive reaction when they walk in,” Enriquez said. “Some folks need that little extra TLC that the dog is very willing to give.” 

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