Paws-itively perfect: Dogs bring joy, calm to community


Photo credit: Kim Smith

Chelsea FC, Twiggy, and Mr. Hubble pose in front of Smith and Tait Coffee Shop. This year for Halloween, owner Kim Smith dressed them as rufferees.

During an Archer Peer Support meeting, one of the group’s most valued members disappeared. This member was later found in the maintenance office, eating a sandwich off of someone’s desk. This member was not a human, however, but a much fuzzier member of the community: an esteemed Archer dog by the name of Gus.

Although I don’t have a dog at home, I feel that the Archer dogs give the school a more homey feel for all students. They make the school feel less like an institution and more like a place to feel joy and learn new things about the real world.

For example, Gus, a collie owned by guidance counselor Patty Lancaster, pads around campus or takes a calming nap in Lancaster’s office over the course of the day.  

“I think dogs are calming,” Lancaster said. “When I walk down the hall with Gus [and] I see students, they’re not worrying about things.”

Gus is not the only dog on campus, however, but one of the estimated 15 dogs — according to Dean of Students Jenn Babin — that staff and faculty bring onto campus to spread some puppy love.

In my personal experience with the Archer dogs, they serve as a relaxing agent during a stressful school day and help me forget about my troubles.

Math teacher and department chair Chris Luzniak echoed this sentiment, saying that his own dog, Finn, makes people feel “calm and comfortable.”

“Students can feel happy to be in class,” Luzniak said. “[Dogs help students] to kind of let go of some of the stress, especially people who are anxious about math class.”

When I was in Luzniak’s class, I felt the same way, as though Finn’s presence calmed me down and actually helped me focus. I stopped worrying and realized that I could, indeed, be good at math.

One of Luzniak’s students, senior Sage Brand-Wolf, said that the Archer dogs help “de-stress” her.

“[The dogs] distract from stress,” Brand-Wolf said. “It’s just nice, because they’re always just so cute and fuzzy, and they make me smile.”

Luzniak followed this theme, and gave one word to describe Finn: “cuddles.”

“He likes to cuddle up next to me all the time,” Luzniak said. “He’s always in my lap at home and sleeps next to me in bed. He’s the cutest dog.”

Perhaps even more amazing than the presence of dogs at Archer is the story of how the tradition came to be.

“One of the founders, Diana Meehan, had two gigantic [Newfoundland Dogs],” Lancaster said. “So, when she founded the school, every time she came or she spoke, she had her dogs right there.”

Lancaster said Meehan felt that dogs make a school a “calmer, happier place.” Sophomore Ava Thompson echoed this sentiment, saying that dogs make Archer feel “secure.”

“Having them around just [makes me think]  ‘Oh, this is another home for me.'” Thompson said.

I believe that the dogs on Archer’s campus embody happiness, and epitomize Archer’s mission of ambitious, joyful learning.

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  • Willie, assistant to orchestra director Susan Smith, sits eagerly in his classroom. Willie delights all of the members of orchestra as he is serenaded by their music each day.

    Photo credit: Susan Smith

  • Gus, Patty Lancaster’s collie, rolls in the grass and plays with sophomore Hannah Joe. Gus is renowned for his calming but also playful nature.

    Photo credit: Patty Lancaster

  • Chad Attie’s dog Brando lies in front of Jeff Koon’s famous sculpture, “Balloon Dog (Blue)” at the Broad. More of Brando’s opinions on modern art can be found on his Instagram, @brandoattie

    Photo credit: Chad Attie

  • Finn is well known among Archer girls for his instagram, @finnweho, run by his Dad, Mr. Luzniak.

    Photo credit: Chris Luzniak

  • Reed Farley’s fluffy dog Emmett can often be seen around campus with his stylish accessories (such as this winter scarf). Here, Emmett sits in on a dance class.

    Photo credit: Reed Farley

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