Posts Tagged ‘Jennifer Muryn’

 By Jennifer Muryn, Associate Dean, School of Business. 

My first posted blog was titled, “How I Met My First Canine Love” and I admit that my first canine love had some ups and downs.  Correction: continues to have ups and downs.  We’re working it out.  And by that, I mean he gets his way- and I modify my life completely.

Allow me to explain.

Duke, my half-German Shepard, quarter German-Shorthaired Pointer, quarter Wire-Haired Pointing Griffon (yes, he was saliva-DNA tested!), looks like a black lab but is anything but, and loves summer.  Specifically the plethora of water options available to lunge at.  From barking at me while washing my car, to barking at the neighbor kids with squirt guns and slip-and-slides, to barking to get access to the garden hose or sprinkler … well, I’m sort of losing my mind, truth be told.  We won’t even go into winter and shoveling.  That truly is another story that involves expensive window replacements.  Ah, but the windows now look amazing.  Again, another story.

Duke is a canine handful.  And I love him.  While losing my mind.

This story is about my second canine love.

ImageA little background: I serve as the president of the board of directors for the South Suburban Humane Society, located in Chicago Heights.  Over the last five years I have had some involvement with this 40-plus year privately funded organization, including fund-raising (at this point many of you are having flashbacks to me cajoling money out of you, Mr. David Pyle, I hope you are reading this!) and operations, including working at off-site animal adoption events.  I volunteered at such an adoption December 3rd of 2010 and was asked if I wanted to handle (hold and tell people about) Smoochie or Rocco.  I smiled when I heard the name choices.  “I’ll take Smoochie, of course!”  The name made me smile and I noticed what a friendly, approachable dog this was (as soooo many of them actually are, including Rocco).  I’m competitive and figured he’d be adopted straightaway and that I’d be able to work with another dog that day, placing someone else in a FURever home.  Pun intended.

He wasn’t.

December 3rd, 2010, outside of the PetCo in Tinley Park there were few people who had any interest in stopping and looking at dogs up for adoption.  It was the start of winter, cold with no snow, and as anyone from the mid-west can attest to, we start comparing the new weather to whatever we experienced the week before.  If this same weather was in place in March we’d all be talking of the coming of Spring.

After three hours of walking, playing and talking up Smoochie, while he was on leash with me, I had to take a biologically necessary break.  I asked someone else to hold Smoochie’s leash while I popped into PetCo.  During the three hours I was with Smoochie, talking him up, him getting petted and not much more, and basically ignoring me, the second I handed over the leash he started whimpering for me.  These were the first sounds he made – and the seeming first awareness he made that I, Jennifer, was at the end of the leash.  Smoochie emitted a high-pitched “hmmm, hmmm , hmmm”.  Re-imagine this as high pitched as possible.

He sounded just like Duke, when Duke knows he can get something and wants to manipulate my mind.  Like water hosed at him.  Or ice tossed his way for catching.  Or a piece of my gourmet, 10-year-aged Asiago cheese.  Or – well, the list is infinite.  And through reinforcement he has learned whimpering pays off big time.

I took my necessary biological break and then returned to handle Smoochie.  The volunteer event was wrapping up.  No one expressed anything resembling a lead on Smoochie.  I was shocked no one seemed to share my amusement at his name or with his gentle persona.  My competitive spirit of having a 100% placement rate (based on two prior dogs!) was crushed, balanced by my growing fondness of this dog.  He had been at the shelter for 6-weeks, a second returned trip.  He was 11-months old and had been in two homes already, mine would be the third.

He came home with me as a foster dog.  And never left.  I’m a terrible foster dog mama.  ImageAnd I am okay with that.

We assume much about shelter dogs: there is something wrong with “them”.  I’ve learned that people take advantage of those who have no voice, assuming no one will ever know their story.  I’ve learned firsthand, through this affable and gentle creature, that love comes in many forms.  Maybe we should be open to it when it presents itself.

I’ve learned The Joy of Smooching.


By Jennifer Muryn, Associate Dean, School of Business.


Several years ago my (now ex) husband, Steve, and I had talked about getting a dog.  We were childless professionals who had moved to the suburbs and became first time homeowners.  I felt that we were between plant and pet in the evolution of plant-pet-child (the logical progression of family/personal responsibility).  We took many years to master the plant stage and really felt ready for the pet stage.  I didn’t grow up with a dog, my dad actually got one just before I moved out.  Steve had more experience in his childhood with many good, family memories.  So, we considered how we’d move forward in this progression of the family life we were building together.

We read, researched and were drawn to so many different breeds.  At one point I was fascinated with pugs.  He has asthma and I had vision problems (since corrected by surgery).  We thought that having a dog with a microcosm of our own health issues was too close to home. 

 We alphabetically reviewed all breeds described by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and talked constantly about dogs with whoever would listen or have information to share.  After eight months we decided to not get a dog.  We were right where we started but by now were practically experts on dog breeds, their potential health issues, common behaviors, needs, size…. everything. 

 At that time Steve and I, childless, had lots of time to attend events, parties, etc. (Parents: remember those days?!?)  We attended a community/family event that was being held to raise money for his cousin’s treatment; Paul was 25-years old and diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.  As part of the fund-raising, there was a silent auction – and someone in the community arranged to have five puppies available for adoption.  Steve’s extended family was there and we had what felt like the largest family gathering ever – several hundred people had attended to raise money for Paul.  (He endured treatment and brain cancer for two years and passed away at 27 years old; two years and a few months after being married on the Winter Solstice.)

 Through the course of an evening of playing with kids, holding puppies and enjoying food and drinks Steve brought up the now-long closed conversation about getting a dog.  I knew that we weren’t going to get a dog but it was fun to hold and play with a litter of 8-week old puppies.  These were beautiful dogs, almost entirely black (they looked like black labs).  Every time I went into the “puppy area” there was one dog who sought me out.  In fact, looking back there was only one puppy of the litter that I held and played with.  I visited this puppy area with and without my nieces throughout the night, stopping up at the bar to replenish my Guinness.  I recall the seeming interest the one puppy had with my Guinness and I joked that he had good taste, seeking out me and also my Guinness!  I asked what breed the dogs were and was told “German Shepard” to which I had a snarky response of, “Do you even know what a German Shepard looks like?  The reply, “Maybe German Shorthaired Pointer?”  I concluded they are likely black labs.  There was also the “runt” of the litter who was, as you can imagine, super-cute and endearing to many of the kid’s hearts.

 At the end of the evening it was time to finalize silent auction bidding.  By this time we were ready, after eight months of data collection and multiple puppy-to-puppy visits through the evening, to make a move expanding our family through a canine addition.

 Steve is probably the best strategic game-player I’ve ever met.  He has the uncanny ability to see many moves ahead, anticipate other’s moves and change (or stay the course) accordingly.  So, when he suggested a way to bid and how to bid we followed it.  This meant we got the first choice; five bidders for five puppies.  Steve wanted me to hold the runt of the litter to see if that was “the one”. 

 At the moment he placed the runt in my arms three simultaneous events occurred: 1) a young girl had a look of disappointment and exasperation (she wanted the runt!), 2) the runt jumped out of my arms and wanted nothing to do with me, and 3) the puppy who sought out the Guinness and my company through the evening looked betrayed at my holding the runt. 

 We picked the puppy who sought out my Guinness and my company; the only puppy I had interacted with through the evening.  I know he chose me.  We named him Duke in honor of one of Steve’s favored dogs growing up, Duchess.  Duke became and continues to be my first canine love.  He opened up the world of canines and led me to being an avid supporter of humane education and animal welfare.

Duke is turning 8 in May and I love him more than I thought ever possible – he is my first canine love. Oh, and it turns out from a DNA test (saliva sample) that Duke is 50% German Shepard, 25% German Shorthaired Pointer and 25% Wire-Haired Pointing Griffon.  Snarkiness in check.