Friday, July 2, 2010

Dogs at Dartmouth

Research for the "Dogs at Dartmouth" exhibit that was recently mounted in the 1965 Galleries in Rauner Library led to the discovery of some compelling stories about the role that dogs have played in the lives of students and other members of the Dartmouth community. Although one might think of our canine companions as merely friendly pets hanging around in Greek houses and catching frisbees on the Green, there are a number of dogs in Dartmouth's past who were hardworking members of the community. 

One dog in particular was a German shepherd named Pal. Pal was a seeing-eye dog whose human was Edward L. Glaser, a member of the class of 1951. At the 182nd Commencement exercises in 1951, Pal was recognized for her four years of faithful attendance at classes with her master and her loyalty and unfailing devotion to her duties as a seeing-eye dog. Pal was presented with a specially designed certificate that was placed in her harness by then Dean of the College Lloyd Neidlinger after she had guided her master to the platform to receive his degree from President Dickey. The certificate read, in part, "We do here by commend her as worthy of all the privileges, immunities, and honors that may be afforded her in recognition of her honorable association with this institution."

A release from the College News Service announced that this was "the first time in the history of Dartmouth that such an honor has been bestowed on a dog.  In the past, blind students have usually remained in their seats and have been given their diplomas following the exercises.  Glaser asked to be allowed to come on the platform with Pal.  'After all,' he said, ‘Pal is as much entitled to this degree as I am.' This gave Dean Neidlinger the idea for the special certificate which he designed personally and will present to Pal at the ceremonies."

This was not the first "first" that Ted Glaser achieved as a student at Dartmouth. In 1949, Glaser won the Thayer Mathematics Prize for excellence in analytic geometry and calculus. In his senior year, he was selected to be a Senior Fellow and was the first blind student given permission by the American Society of Actuaries to take the annual actuary examination, an all-day exam required for those wishing to become an actuarial. All the while, Pal was at his side. They remained a team until 1954, when Pal passed away, as noted in a letter to the editor of the Alumni Magazine in March, 1954.

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