Last Saturday, as part of the Wizard-of-Oz-themed “Snow place like home” Winter Carnival, professors, dogs and students gathered on the frozen tundra of Paresky lawn for a Meet and Greet with Toto. Presented by the Williams College Kennel Club, a local Berkshire subsidiary of the Westminster Kennel Club, the event was a success from start to finish.
“I think the Meet and Greet with Toto was a really well-attended event,” said Winter Carnival committee co-chair Abigail Robinson ’17. “I think that dogs really bring Williams together as a community, and it was really cool to see professors get involved with Winter Carnival. It really grabbed people’s attention, and who doesn’t like fluffy dogs? I think it was a great time had by all.”
Unlike its famous older sister, the Westminster Dog Show, which took place on Feb. 16 and 17 in New York, N.Y., the Meet and Greet with Toto lacked some formal components, such as grooming, parading or judging. Yet what the event lacked in professional standards, it more than made up for in playfulness and all-around fun. Surveying the glorious pageant before us, we seasoned judges decided to evaluate the “canine athletes” in a few key areas that qualify these pups as man’s – or every College student’s – best friend. The areas of (friendly) competition in which each dog was judged were as follows: gait, agility, fluffiness, spunk, tendency to challenge authority and personality: that ineffable “it” factor.
The canines were included: a Bernese mountain dog named Kitka, who belongs to Associate Professor of Biology Lois Banta; Kaylee, a boxer belonging to Assistant Professor of Geosciences Phoebe Cohen; Juno and Luna, two rescued huskies belonging to Laura and Frederick Strauch, instructor in chemistry and associate professor of physics, respectively; Daisy, a golden retriever also belonging to the Strauch family; and an unknown chocolate lab who was rumored by owners and observers to have been present at the event, despite the fact that we never caught a glimpse of the ghost pup.
Kitka, the Bernese mountain dog, was the friendliest and most energetic of the bunch, visibly frolicking among (read: destroying) the student-made snow sculptures in various stages of construction on Paresky lawn. Her energy remained at a constant high throughout the event, and when the event ended, she was eager to stay socializing and schmoozing with newfound pals. She would effervescently bounce from student to student, nuzzling affectionately, wildly wagging her 10-pound tail (twice knocking over this venerable judge) and giving off “good vibes” in general. For this, we would like to award Kitka the prize of Miss Congeniality 2015.
Next, we would like to honor Kaylee, the short-haired boxer, with the 2015 award for Most Hardworking. Kaylee came down with an injury to her paw just as the event was kicking off. Although we initially sensed a little iciness from the fighter, we soon realized it was due to a career-ending fine, event ending – ripped nail. With a resilient and dignified spirit, she calmly watched over the event, despite uncontrollable shivers and a limp, before being walked off the field. We applaud you, Kaylee.
Best Eyes goes to Luna, the cuddly husky with one brown eye and one piercing blue. According to Strauch, who was standing in the middle of a flock of students, holding on firmly to three leashes at once and being pulled in every direction, Luna is “what is called bi-eyed. It’s part of the breed.” Referring to his golden retriever Daisy and his other husky Juno, Strauch joked that he and his wife “were happy when we got Daisy because she has two brown eyes [and] Juno has two blue eyes, so we have equal numbers now.”
Points also were added to Luna’s power ranking because of her impressive appetite. Not letting propriety get in her way, Luna failed to realize some Cheez-Its and cookies were part of a creative inscription on the afternoon’s winning snow sculpture and gobbled them up. To be fair, in such exhibitions of abstract art it is always difficult to tell where the museum ends and the art begins exactly. “She didn’t realize they were decorations,” Strauch said.
Juno, on the other hand, is less snack, more attack. “Juno is pure husky, so he doesn’t listen unless he wants to,” said Fredrick Strauch. Winter is the husky’s favorite season, so he was visibly elated at the event, from burying himself in snow banks to amicably pouncing on cheerful Ephs. “He knows how to open doors if they are slightly ajar, especially if there’s a little latch he can bat. He’s been known to get away sometimes, so we keep him on a leash. [Juno and Luna] are both rescues, so we don’t know exactly where they came from.” Juno’s intelligence and sportive attitude wins him this year’s prestigious Talent award.
Daisy, the lone non-husky in the Strauch dog family, won Biggest Flirt for her sweet personality and outgoing nature. “Daisy is a classic golden retriever. She just wants to please everybody,” Strauch said. “She’s very obedient, although she has her favorites on campus. She knows where to go to get treats. She’s made lots of good friends.” We certainly were charmed by Daisy and will be sure to sneak her some treats if we ever see around campus in the future.
Lastly, we award the ghost chocolate lab the Most Changed Since Freshman Year Award for the sake of rounding out the 2015 dog yearbook.