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A Dog's Life

A Dog's Life Doing more to help neglected and abandoned pets Thank you for the wonderful article "Shelter Me" in May/June 2010. Cornell should be very proud of its Vet college. Addressing the dreadful state of care for our homeless, abandoned, and abused domestic pets is long overdue. We should all be reminded periodically that […]


A Dog's Life

Doing more to help neglected and abandoned pets

Thank you for the wonderful article "Shelter Me" in May/June 2010. Cornell should be very proud of its Vet college. Addressing the dreadful state of care for our homeless, abandoned, and abused domestic pets is long overdue. We should all be reminded periodically that this situation is not of their making—but ours. It certainly can, and must, be improved upon.

Yesterday, I visited the Washington Humane Society in Silver Spring, Maryland. My heart went out to the ten doggies housed in shallow kennels in the basement. The conditions were clean—no odors, well-ventilated, low humidity—but there was no natural light.

Each doggie had a clean coat and was active, healthy, and housebroken. But it was obvious each one wanted "out," to a loving home. It was heartrending, but as a senior citizen all I can do now is donate and pray that there will be others who can provide a caring, healthy, lifetime home for each and every one of them.

Please publish more articles about the Vet college, and please remind all alumni to donate generously to their local SPCA and similar organizations. Doggies give so much to us in important ways and, sadly, often receive so little in return.

Mary Turnbull '53
Arlington, Virginia

Please do not insult my intelligence by implying that the problem of euthanasia of dogs and cats in this country is going to be eliminated by teaching veterinarians how to manage shelters and shelter animals. I have been involved in dog rescue for the past fifteen years. It is heartbreaking, exhausting, and emotionally draining work. It is also rewarding, when we are able to save a dog or cat. If Cornell veterinary students and faculty believe they are learning about homeless animals by working at the Tompkins County SPCA, they are sadly mistaken. If student veterinarians really want to know about the world of homeless companion animals, they should try some of these suggestions:

* Talk to people who are actually involved in rescue about the thousands of volunteers all over the country who donate their time and money to save homeless dogs and cats. Ask them what it is like to walk down the aisles of a shelter trying to decide which ones you can save, knowing the others will likely be euthanized.

* Find out about the hundreds of transports that drive all over the country in an attempt to get dogs and cats from places where the adoption rate is low to a place where they can be sheltered and adopted. There are even more than a hundred pilots who fly rescue missions in their own planes.

* Visit rural shelters in Georgia or North Carolina or West Virginia (these are not the only states), to see the poor conditions—despite the heroic efforts of shelter staff. A few years ago, my rescue took a truckload of dog food to a rural shelter because we found that they were feeding the dogs only every other day. They couldn't afford to feed them every day.

* At those same rural shelters, watch the animals that were not rescued being gassed, because that is the cheapest way to dispose of a lot of animals at one time. It makes the statistic cited in the article about the number of dogs that are "euthanized" very real. The kind of humane euthanization that veterinary students learn is not commonly used in these situations.

* Spend some time in a puppy mill. Observe how the breeding mothers are kept in crates stacked on top of each other, so the urine and feces of the dog on top fall on the dogs underneath. You might even observe one of the puppy mill moms being shot, because that is a common way to get rid of them when they are no longer fit for breeding.

* Talk to some practicing veterinarians and ask how many of them would be willing to forgo some of their profits to provide low-cost veterinary services to rescue organizations.

You have published a nice article about some nice people who are fortunate enough to have nice facilities and the funds to carry out their program. I applaud Mr. Duffield for his efforts. But until this country decides to face the reality of how we really treat our companion animals, Mr. Duffield's efforts will be for naught. If someone is going to face reality, why shouldn't it be student veterinarians?

Barbara Osgood ’56, PhD ’80
Fairfax, Virginia



I felt much sadness reading about those fellow Cornellians who have passed away too early and seeing pictures of our gorge bridges, fenced off and guarded (From the Hill, May/June 2010). The daily commute across one of those bridges is a shared experience of all Cornellians. I was, however, heartened to read President Skorton's open and straightforward discussion of these events in his column. I very much agree with him that we all must connect with each other to help in times of need. Indeed, another experience we probably all shared at Cornell is the occasional feeling of being completely overwhelmed and stressed. Ironically, it is success in these situations that many of us now think back to when faced with great challenges after leaving Cornell.

As a former trainee at EARS while at Cornell and a peer crisis counselor at my graduate school, I know that many times simply sharing feelings and concerns is a major step on the road to being better. One of the first things all peer counselors assess is the support network of friends and family of those who reach out for help. We all should recognize when our friends may need to talk or may need to seek additional help. I applaud the efforts being made on campus to spread this message.

Sanjay Joshi '90
Davis, California

I am surprised that there are not more suicides at Cornell. When I arrived in 1956 for orientation, we were told: "Look to the left of you, look to the right. These people will not be here when you graduate." Pretty much, that was true.

After our first exam in Qualitative Analysis, given by Professor Simon Bauer, there was a bimodal grade distribution, with a class average of about 45 percent. Dr. Bauer said that the bottom half of the class didn't belong here. When I took Differential Equations, there were two class sections, taught by different instructors; one taught the theoretical aspects and the other taught the practical aspects. The instructor who taught the practical aspects made up the final exam. Unfortunately, I was in the theoretical class. After about five minutes of reading the exam, everyone in my class was looking around the room. No one had any idea what the questions meant. The man sitting next to me flunked out because of that exam.

I doubt that much has changed. If you want to improve student morale, there needs to be academic tutoring for those who need it, and advisers who actually care to spend some time with their students. There also should be academic oversight of the teachers, their methods, and their lesson plans.

Lynne Keefe Verna '60
White Plains, New York

As a graduating senior, reading the "At a Loss" blog from a fellow student (Currents, May/June 2010) sparked a strong response. It offered a well written and clear perspective—but it was just one perspective. So allow me to share another. As a Hotelie, I can say that I have never encountered the level of insensitivity mentioned by Erica Southerland '10. The overwhelming warmth from Hotel school faculty sets the school apart and creates relationships that will last a lifetime. While the standards we are held to are never compromised (nor should they be), fa
culty always provide support to students. It only requires asking for help, as President Skorton's message called us to. The Hotel school faculty have made a positive and lasting difference in my life through their friendship and mentorship. I hope they never cease to realize the difference they can make in their students' lives—they've made the difference in mine.

Christina Heggie '10
Ithaca, New York

Coaching Change

Following Cornell's fantastic performance in this year's NCAA basketball tournament, many alumni, including me, were disappointed to learn that head coach Steve Donahue had left Cornell and signed a contract with Boston College. What Coach Donahue accomplished in basketball, a most visible sport on the national college athletic scene, is truly amazing. He built a program for student-athletes and was able to become competitive with and win against some of the best teams in the country. In recent memory, I cannot recall any other program of our great university, academic or otherwise, that generated so much goodwill, exposure, and publicity. A coach like this comes around once a generation, and his fine work demonstrates that we can have a great basketball program without compromising our academic standards.

Cornell prides itself on producing highly successful graduates who excel in all fields of endeavor including business, medicine, education, government, law, and finance. Cornell can and does raise millions of dollars from its graduates, partly because of the spirit and pride that successful teams engender. It is disappointing that our university cannot reward a highly successful coach within its own ranks so that he instead has to accept a position at a college half our size. Great academic institutions like Duke, Georgetown, and Stanford have, over the years, managed to keep their great coaches by compensating them in ways commensurate with the contributions they make to the overall success and reputation of their schools. I hope we will be able to change our policies so well-rounded student-athletes will continue to apply to Cornell, benefit from superlative athletic as well as academic environments, and play on teams that energize and inspire current and future students, alumni, and friends of the University.

Peter Gogolak '64
Darien, Connecticut

Ed. Note: Famed placekicker Pete Gogolak is a member of the Cornell Athletic Hall of Fame and played professional football with the Buffalo Bills (1964-65) and New York Giants (1966-74).

Diversity by Design?

I found Cornell College Republican Paul Ibrahim's letter about diversity to be quite amusing (Correspondence, May/June 2010). He bemoans the "utter lack of ideological diversity in relevant academic departments." But without seeing his list, I could only speculate what diversity he was looking for. I imagined that he might propose eliminating a course in evolutionary biology and replacing it with intelligent design. Or perhaps replacing quantum mechanics with a course on what the Earth was like when it was created 7,500 years ago and dinosaurs and humans coexisted. Perhaps he would like to suggest a course for Sarah Palin to teach?

Scott Peer '80
Glendale, California

Correction—May/June 2010

The Wines of New York State, page 15: The article "Students Complete First Vintage at Cornell's New Teaching Winery" by Kathleen Arnink first appeared in "Appellation Cornell," an online publication of the CALS Viticulture and Enology Program ( andwine/appellation-cornell/). We regret the omission of this credit.