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

Studio Snapshots: Steve Light

In a very small studio in NYC, a magician creates vast worlds. Welcome to the studio of Steve Light, award-winning author and illustrator of numerous books, including Have You Seen My Dragon, SWAP!, Up Cat Down Cat, and blog favorite Zephyr Takes Flight (see the awesome project we did for it here!). Steve’s newest book is Road Trip: A Whiskers Hollow Adventure, but he’s hard at work on The Itsy Bitsy Spider, which is set to be released by Candlewick Press. Steve is often joined by studio assistant Madie the Cat.


So, I live in Manhattan where space is limited. I live in a studio apartment with my wife and cat. My studio is in an alcove off the living room, my workshop with my tools is in a walk-in closet off the alcove. To get to my studio you walk “through” our bookcase! It’s like entering the world of books.

My studio has to be very well organized to be functional. As my friend Barbara McClintock said, “It is like a pilot’s cockpit, everything is within reach at any time!” It is small but very efficient. I have created 20 books in this space.

I have all my pens, inks, and materials in the assorted cabinets. My whole desk is a light table, this allows me to see my pencil drawings under my paper when inking the final illustrations. I also have an iPod to listen to music, not my phone so I’m not tempted to look at emails or other stuff. I usually wake up at 4am and make coffee and sit right down to work. Since my workspace is steps from my bed, I can keep that half awake relaxed mindset and set right to work. It is very peaceful.

In the closet off the studio, I have all my tools. I love to make things out of wood and that’s what this space is for. I have a scroll saw, drill press, sander and many hand tools. I make sculptures, models, toys, and puppets!

I love living in New York City and love creating in my little space. I spend a lot of time sketching in museums and coffee shops. The city is endlessly inspirational to me.


Images courtesy of Steve Light

Studio Snapshots: Peter Brown

Today we’re visiting Caldecott Honor winning author and illustrator, Peter Brown! Peter has been featured on our blog multiple times (see The Curious Garden, Creepy Carrots, and Creepy Underwear). His other books include The Wild Robot, My Teacher is a Monster!, Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, and Children Make Terrible Pets.

His newest book, the sweet and funny Fred Gets Dressed (Little, Brown, 2021) was released this month, and you can check out more of his works, collaborations, and free coloring pages (woot!) on his website.


Photo 1: Each morning, my wife and I leave our house in Philadelphia and start walking south through the city, with our dog. We end up at a big, old building, that was once a technical high school, but is now an office building filled with artist studios and small businesses and non-profits. We enter the building, go up two flights of stairs, and then walk past the old high school lockers to the end of the hall. When we open the door to our studio, this is what we see. This room used to be a science classroom, and it still has quite a few of the original details.

Photo 2: My wife, Susan Fang, is also an artist, and to make the most of our shared space, we hired a carpenter to build us a large worktable, along with a simple white wall to separate our desk areas. I do most of my drawing at the big table, and then I go over to my computer to do my digital work.

Photo 3: We spend a lot of time in our studio, so we had to make it comfortable for everyone, especially our dog.

Photo 4: To publicize my new picture book, Fred Gets Dressed, the publisher arranged my very first virtual book tour. I sat in this spot and stared at my laptop and spoke to readers all across the country. I discussed the book and read from it and gave drawing demonstrations. It was great that I could speak with so many people, in so many different places, all from my studio. But I’m really looking forward to doing in-person book events again.


Images courtesy of Peter Brown