Ivy Dogs

Peter Putnam ’42 *50 and his guide dog Wick at Commencement, 1950. Historical Photograph Collection

Campus canines abound! Blog readers in the New Jersey area should definitely check out the Princeton 275 exhibit at the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library. Curated by April C. Armstrong, Rosalba Varallo Recchia, and Iliyah Coles, the exhibit’s selections showcase Princeton University’s growth and transformation from its first charter in 1746, to today. It’s fascinating and thoughtful, touching on topics such as racial integration, coeducation, and inclusion. The Mudd Library exhibit is open to the public and free of charge.

What caught our eye at the exhibit was the image you see above. That’s Peter Putnum, Princeton undergraduate class of 1942 and Wick, his amazing guide dog. Putnam lost his sight between his sophomore and junior years, and, despite worries that the University would be able to accommodate him, graduated with high honors in modern languages. Putnum continued on to earn a Ph.D. in history and had a long career as a writer and activist.

You can read more stories behind the Princeton 275 exhibit here, but Wick got me and Katie thinking about other famous dogs on campus. We found some interesting connections, starting with the secret bulldog on the University Chapel!

Legend has it that the bulldog (the mascot of Princeton’s rival Yale) was sneakily added to the drainpipe by the Chapel architect, Ralph Adams Cram. The myth has since been debunked, as Cram did not attend Yale. But who knows? SOMEONE placed the bulldog on the drainpipe in Princeton tiger territory.

Another pair of famous canines are Bo and Sunny Obama. Though technically they never came to campus – former First Lady Michelle Obama was a Princeton student in the 1980s – we like to think they would have enjoyed being with her! Below is a White House holiday card sent to Princeton faculty member Toni Morrison, personally signed by the Presidential family (and the doggies!).

The Toni Morrison Papers, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

We started with Wick, and we wanted to finish the post with another famous campus service dog currently on active duty. Meet Sgt. Alvan Flanders and Coach, two beloved members of Princeton University’s Department of Public Safety team.

Photo by Denise Applewhite, Office of Communications

Coach is not a police canine in that she does not sniff for drugs or explosives. She was trained by Puppies Behind Bars, an organization that works with prison inmates to prepare dogs for community caretaking roles. Coach and Sgt. Flanders bring support, joy, comfort, and smiles to countless students.

Photo courtesy of Anne Kuehl

If you would like to see more historical images of dogs on campus from the Princeton University Archives (including Princeton’s capture of the Yale bulldog – perhaps in revenge for the drain pipe?), you will find the gallery here.


Many thanks to April Armstrong for the personal tour of the Princeton 275 exhibit, which runs through October 30th, 2022

Book Title Mash Up

Does your taste in books vary wildly? No problem, just combine them! We designed this book title mashup activity as an ice breaker for Cotsen Critix, our literary society for kids ages 9-12. It was inspired by the hilarious Very Condensed Book postcards designed by Hilary Brown Greetings.

The kids had a fantastic timer recounting titles and mixing them up, as well as talking to each other about the books they love. Here’s our favorite dozen…

Are you my Mother, Harry Potter?
The Twilight Games
We the Big Idea Math People
Beauty and the Deathly Hallows
Warriors on the Prairie
Snow White and the Titan’s Curse
Under the Holes
A Wind in the Wardrobe
Go BFG Go!
Where the Sidewalk Ends Wild Things Are
If You Give a Mouse a Chocolate Factory
The Confessions of Charlotte’s Web

Wait ‘Til the Midnight Hour

It may be midnight, but there’s always time to explore this awesome little 2D library, and possibly discover a hidden letter or two!

We recommend reading The Midnight Library by Kazuno Kohara (Roaring Book Press, 2014, read here by the Ingleside Public Library). Welcome to a very special library: it’s only open from midnight to dawn! The little librarian, along with her three assistant owls, work together in the dark and help the forest animals find a place to play music, read the perfect story time book, and even sign up for a library card!

You’ll need:

  • 1 midnight library template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ paper
  • 1 clear piece of 8.5″ x 11″ plastic (more on this below!)
  • Sharpie permanent marker
  • 1 piece of black construction paper
  • One flashlight template, printed on 8.5″ x 11″ card stock
  • Scissors for construction
  • Markers for decorating
  • Optional: fine tip dry erase marker

Begin by printing the midnight library template. Then, place a piece of plastic on top of the template and trace it using a Sharpie permanent marker. We used archival mylar, but you can also use the clear cellophane rolls you find in the gift basket section of your local craft store!

Replace the paper library template with a piece of black construction paper. Tape the corners of the black construction paper to a tabletop, then tape the corners of the plastic to the tabletop as well. Really to explore the library? Slide the flashlight’s light beam between the construction paper and plastic to “illuminate” the scene!

Want to take the project up a notch? Use a fine tip dry erase marker on the plastic to “hide” letters in the library, and ask your young readers to locate them. Once all the letters have been discovered, you can erase them and start anew! You can make the letters random, or ask kids to string together various words and/or messages. For example, I’ve hidden the word “hello” on this shelf…can you find it?