Geneva College
Geneva pets: Finding their way to our heartsspacer.gif

Denise Murphy-Gerber with Hershey and Maggie.My dog, a springer spaniel named Maggie, came to me by way of a young woman who had been diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 25. Her husband traveled a lot with his job, and she was too ill to take care of this rambunctious puppy alone. Every time he traveled, I would take the puppy for her. I fell in love with the dog, so I decided to get one of my own.

Through the Springer Spaniel Rescue of Long Island, I found a springer spaniel named Hershey who needed to be rescued from his abusive home. On the day before I was to pick him up, I got a frantic call from this young couple asking me to take Maggie forever. So I adopted two springer spaniels within 24 hours. And they loved each other.

In August of this past year, Hershey suffered a stroke. I was heart broken and looking for another pet — but maybe one that I didn't require constant wiping of paws. Lori Symmonds, a co-worker at Geneva College, had posted an e-mail explaining that her new puppy was trying to eat their guinea pig. I volunteered to give the guinea pig a good home. His name was Bilbo Baggins, and I bought him a three-story condo and two new friends named Gandalf and Frodo. But I soon realized that some of the he's must be she's, so off to the veterinarian we went. Bilbo was a girl, and his friends had to have surgery.

I am also a canine transport volunteer and I make trips helping dogs get from kill shelters to no-kill shelters, or to forever homes. My first trip was after Hurricane Katrina. Along with a team of other volunteers, I helped move a number of dogs from Louisiana all the way to New York. I am always looking for help, so if anyone out there likes to drive and wants to save lives, just e-mail me at

Denise Murphy-Gerber is an associate professor of business at Geneva College. In addition to Maggie and the guinea pigs, she the proud owner of two cats, Katie Miss and Bubba; and four Japanese Koi fish, Hoover, Eureka, Kirby and Oreck, that constantly “vacuum” the bottom of her backyard fishpond. The fish share their watery domain with hundreds of goldfish and frogs.

In the next issue of @Geneva

Animals can teach us a lot about friendship and unconditional affection. Do you have a dog who always knows when you're happy or sad? (Maybe he just chewed your couch and you're the one loving him unconditionally.) Do you have a cat that’s stand-offish but can always make you laugh? Whether it’s a fish, a horse, a lizard or a pot-bellied pig, we would love to hear about your animal friend.

E-mail your story and a photo of your pet to by March 16.

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