Four-legged friends on campus

March 23, 2018

After a long day of classes and studying, seeing friendly faces on campus can instantly brighten someone’s day. Among the many Brandeis community members on campus, a few furry friends stand out from the pack.

One of the most well known dogs spotted on campus is Koda, a one-year-old Samoyed. Koda was adopted in December of 2016 at eight weeks old by his owners, David Boulos and Liana Ung. The three live close to Brandeis and often walk around campus. “We live right next door so it started out just being a beautiful, lit up place to go for a walk after work. But everyone has been so friendly and inviting it became a daily routine,” Boulos and Ung wrote to The Brandeis Hoot.

Boulos, who is from Waltham and is considering transferring to Brandeis in the fall, often brings Koda to campus and documents their many adventures on Koda’s Instagram page, @hi_kodabear. The account has over 1,200 followers and features posts about Koda’s many adventures around Boston. “I wasn’t very active for the first few months because puppies are SO much work. But I was taking thousands of pictures and it was immediately clear he needed his own page,” Boulos wrote.

Koda is instantly recognizable with his plush white fur and playful attitude. Keeping Koda as photogenic as he is is no easy feat, according to his owners, despite his “famous Samoyed Smile!” Boulos and Ung make sure that Koda gets lots of exercise and attention and they treat him to a healthy diet of all raw meat. He is also brushed thoroughly twice a week and gets a bath every month or so to keep his fur in top shape.

“But he never sits still for pictures unless you have a treat ready! I usually bring extra treats just in case anyone wants to take a picture with him,” Boulos and Ung explained in reference to how they get so many great shots of Koda for their Instagram. They mentioned that every good shot followed at least 20 failed tries.

Some things that Koda and Boulos enjoy doing together include hiking and the sport bikejoring. Bikejoring is a dog mushing activity, defined as a form of transportation powered by dogs, where a dog is attached to a towline and runs ahead of a cyclist. The colder it is, the better for Koda. “Samoyeds are specially suited for temperatures around -40 degrees Fahrenheit! So the colder it is, the more excited and energetic he gets,” Boulos and Ung wrote.

Koda’s favorite spot on campus is Massell Pond. “He likes to watch the geese, chase the bunnies and smell the food,”—the food smell, of course, coming from nearby Sherman Dining Hall. He also loves visiting students at Brandeis. “He’s really happy to meet new people, and he’s even more excited to see regulars! You can really tell that he remembers everyone he meets,” Boulous and Ung wrote.

They explained that coming to Brandeis with Koda on a regular basis has helped the dog become socialized and well behaved. “Students will also regularly tell us how great it is to see Koda and how he helps them feel so much better after a big test or a stressful day. It’s a really great feeling to see him have that effect with students in their hard times and spreading that positivity,” Boulos and Ung explained.

Another popular place on campus for spotting dogs is the Slosberg Music Center. Professor Judith Eissenberg (MUS) often brings her dog, Louie, to campus with her. Eissenberg has been at Brandeis since 1980. She founded, and plays violin for, the Lydian String Quartet, a group consisting of Brandeis professors. At Brandeis, she teaches Chamber Music and Introduction to World Music. She also teaches Chamber Music at the Boston Conservatory.

Her dog, Louie, is a black Standard Poodle who is equally musical and energetic. “He’s about eight years old but he acts like he’s about six months,” said Eissenberg, “That’s typical for standard poodles; they never grow up.” Eissenberg is his owner and also his groomer. She sometimes experiments with interesting new hair styles.

Louie is a music-loving and people-loving dog, who likes to ask for hugs, Eissenberg said. “He likes to come up to you and stand between your knees, he just stands there and you’re supposed to hug him.”

Louie can often be spotted in Eissenberg’s office, where he has a special bed set up for him. “Sometimes I bring him to class, particularly Chamber Music because he knows how to behave,” Eissenberg said. Often, when the quartet is practicing, he lies in Eissenberg’s office and listens to their rehearsal, as he is used to hearing music.

Though he’s most often found in Slosberg, Eissenberg and Louie also enjoy jogging around campus. Eissenberg explained that he has an “incredible sense of humor,” and that he finds a close friend in the other dog that spends a lot of time in Slosberg, a female poodle mix named Cookie. “She totally bosses Louie around and he likes that. He really likes to play,” Eissenberg said. When he’s in Slosberg, Louie is often looking for Cookie.

Deborah Rosenstein, the Concert Program Manager for the music department, is Cookie’s owner. “In her mind, she’s the official mascot [of Slosberg]. This is her building and she lets all of us work here, which is very kind of her.”

“There are definitely a lot of people around the building who know Cookie, who I don’t actually know. So she gets visitors that are here just to see her,” Rosenstein said of her dog’s fame in the Brandeis community. Rosenstein explained that Cookie’s signature move is sitting down while turning her back to the person, and then glancing over her shoulder to indicate that they can pet her. “That’s when you know that she’s accepted you.”

In addition to playing with Louie, Cookie sometimes makes rounds in Slosberg to people who she knows will be storing treats for her in their offices. Cookie is a rescue, who is about nine years old and a mix of poodle with another mystery breed. She was discovered by Rosenstein’s cousin, when people had moved out of an apartment and left her behind. “But now look at her!” said Rosenstein, “She was a bit underweight when we first met and now she’s very robust.” Rosenstein spoke kindly, mentioning that Cookie loves treats, especially Pup-peroni.

Rosenstein described Cookie as a “cultured dog,” who is used to the music and bustle of the Slosberg Music Center. “Being a music building, there’s a lot of loud noises at times and those don’t phase her at all.” Her favorite spot on campus is Slosberg and its surrounding quiet area. She often acts as the mascot for the Festival of the Arts, where she can be seen wearing the year’s themed tee-shirt as a cape. Koda, Louie and Cookie are all honorary members of the Brandeis community, bringing positivity and energy to students’ lives on campus.

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