School days aren’t so rough when the Stony Brook Seawolf Pups are strutting around campus and brightening up students’ days.
Cindy Crowell, 59, who lives in the neighborhood adjacent to Tabler Quad, comes to Stony Brook University’s Academic Mall about five times a week to walk her three Havanese dogs, Marley, Indiana and Lily, who she calls the Seawolf Pups. She’s regularly approached by wide-eyed students who get excited to pet her dogs in between classes.
“Most of the students say they like to see them and pet them because they’re stressed out and it helps them get less stressed,” Crowell said. “It’s a very good school and a tough school and I think that it’s important for people to just be able to feel like they can say ‘Can I pet your dog?’ and I say of course.”
Many students tell Crowell that they miss their dogs and sometimes they show her pictures of their family pets.
“Who wouldn’t be happier seeing a dog?” Isabelle Wolpert, a sophomore environmental humanities major who has met Crowell and the Seawolf Pups before, said. “I miss mine at home a lot so seeing dogs here just makes my day better.”
Another student, freshman Erika Franco, said, “I miss my dog. Dogs are so pure and just bring joy and happiness.”
Each dog has a different personality, but they are all active and eager to greet people. Marley, named after Bob Marley, is not shy but reserved. Indiana, named after Indiana Jones, is outgoing and loves to run up to people. Lily, named after Lily Potter from the Harry Potter books, is shy but gets excited when she can run around without a leash. The dogs love earning “off-leash time” where they can roam freely on campus and not have to worry about too many cars being around.
Crowell meets many new students who are pleasantly surprised to see three dogs on their way to class and she is always glad to see familiar faces.
“I’ve seen them around a lot of times,” Meenakshi Janardhanan, a senior mathematics major, said. “I’ve seen them for the last year or so and I always pet them.”
When the dogs aren’t going out for walks, they are either eating, napping or watching “Game of Thrones.”
Crowell grew up near the University of Vermont and, having gotten accustomed to living in a college town, knew that she wanted to settle down near a university. A couple of years after she moved to Long Island in 1987, Crowell started walking her two standard poodles and Doberman Pinscher around Stony Brook University.
Crowell is now apart of Havanese Rescue, a non-profit organization dedicated to rescuing and finding foster and adoptive families for purebred Havanese dogs and Havanese mixes. Crowell has fostered and adopted dogs from the organization.
“We had several fosters in our house that I placed and we kept one who was named Zoey,” Crowell said. “Zoey had to be given up by her family when she was eleven and a half. Knowing that they could turn her into a rescue where she would find a good home meant a lot to them.”
Crowell wants people to understand where their dogs may be coming from and that between vet bills, food and grooming, raising a dog can be expensive.
“Owning a dog is the closest thing to having a child,” she said. “Dogs need a lot of socialization, exercise, good food, training and a lot of attention.”
For students who are not able to take on the responsibility of having a dog, the Seawolf Pups can serve as their daily dose of dogs on campus.