Catching Up With the Faculty Pets

Imagine this: You’re walking up to the dining hall after sports. At the base of Hill House, you see an adorable golden retriever tied to a lamppost. You sit down next to the dog and pet it for a few minutes. When your impatient friends’ texts finally compel you to leave, you find yourself suddenly feeling much better — your chest feels a little lighter and the mountain of work seems a little further away. You’ve just received pet therapy from one of Choate’s many faculty pets.

The Choate community is diverse in every sense of the word. In addition to hundreds of students and faculty, other Choate residents include furry, four-legged companions thanks to the many faculty pets on campus. To better understand the stories of these pets, Michelle Zhuang ’18 sat down with four pet-owning Choate faculty members.

Photo courtesy of Ally Brundige

Cordy, Chappy B’s four-year-old Golden Retriever, is named after the dog from the Courduroy Mansions Series. She was born on a farm in New Jersey before being purchased by Chappy B.

Corduroy “Cordy”—Rev. Ally Brundige

Named after the dog from the Corduroy Mansions Series, Corduroy — affectionately known as “Cordy” — is a four-year-old Golden Retriever whose owner is Director of Spiritual Life Chappy B. “I wanted a dog for a long point in my life, but I waited until coming to Choate,” she explained. “Over a long weekend four years ago, I went to a farm in New Jersey — where I’m originally from — because I had heard of a litter there. Cordy was the runt, and from that day on she and I have had a special connection.” Regarding having a pet on campus, Chappy B said, “It’s wonderful. I think it’s nice for students to have dogs on campus who they can receive love from. My greatest memories include Cordy playing with other campus dogs. It’s wonderful to watch their delight when they play together, roll in the snow together, and get into adventures together.”

Photo courtesy of Amy Salot

Kili, owned by Ms. Fran O’Donoghue and Ms. Amy Salot, is often accompanied by her companion, Winni. She enjoys catching mice and chipmunks, along with the occasional bird.


Winni and Kili—Ms. Fran O’Donoghue and Ms. Amy Salot

If you ever see two cats roaming around campus, it’s likely you’ve just encountered the dynamic campus duo Winni and Kili. According to science teacher and third form dean Ms. Fran O’Donoghue, “We got our cats off a farm in New Hampshire six years ago. We got two because we knew that we wouldn’t be around the house during the day and didn’t want them to get lonely.” The names of the two cats are based on significant locations for Ms.  O’Donoghue and Ms. Salot: “Winni” is short for Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, and “Kili” is short for Mount Kilimanjaro, which Ms.  O’Donoghue and Ms. Salot had previously climbed on a Choate trip. According to Ms.  O’Donoghue, “The cats often catch mice and chipmunks, along with the occasional bird. Sometimes the chipmunks will still be alive and you have to take it from them and bring it back outside.”


Photo courtesy of Erik Freeman

Basile, a bunny owned by history teacher Mr. Erik Freeman, enjoys playing in a hutch near the Kohler Environmental Center (KEC). Though he has escaped his hutch in the past, he’s always come home unscathed.

Basile—Mr. Erik Freeman

Although dogs and cats are the most common pets found on campus, there are also other campus critters. An example is history teacher Mr. Erik Freeman’s Basile the bunny. According to Mr. Freeman, “I’m allergic to dogs, but my kids really wanted a pet. Someone once gave us a bunny, but it died so we bought another bunny. We live in the KEC and built a really large bunny hutch that looks like a barn. Basile mostly plays in the hutch. We say hi to him and pet him.” Mr. Freeman added, “One time Basile escaped. We left and when we came back, he was out of his cage. Because we have tons of coyotes where we live, we began to lose hope. Nonetheless, my wife and I began calling Basile’s name, and when we called, he hopped right back.”

Photo courtesy of Ben Small

Tesla is the third racing greyhound Mr. Ben Small has owned during his time at Choate. Named by Mr. Small’s daughter, Tesla enjoys walking the cross country course each morning and exploring the campus.


Tesla—Mr. Benjamin Small

Tesla is a retired racing greyhound — the third that Mr. Ben Small has owned at Choate — and was named by Small’s daughter, who really loves cars. Mr. Small said, “I feel really fortunate to live on campus; it means that I’m able to sometimes go home and walk her during the day. Every morning, Tess and I take a long walk through the cross country course. Choate is a great place to have a pet because we have so many fields and woods. Kids always love seeing her around. Sometime I leave her outside tied to the lamppost, and oftentimes I’ll see three to four kids just sitting there petting her. I feel like they’re getting their dog fix.”

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