Campus canines boost morale little by little

The quad on John Brown University’s campus has its very own “puppy man,” Corwin Lyttle, who shares his puppies with students. Corwin is the husband of another JBU student, Lindsey Lyttle.

Not really knowing what to expect the first time he rescued some puppies, Corwin decided to bring the rescued puppies to the JBU campus, where he thought students needed some puppy love. “Students just flocked to them, asking their names, what breed they were, where I got them—just running around with them, playing with them, snapping pictures, taking naps. It was awesome. I loved the pups getting used to people, but seeing the students smiling and having better days because of the puppies made me feel like I was accomplishing something,” Corwin said.

“Making people happy with puppies or happy at all. . .that’s something I was proud of. So, I kept bringing them. All day sometimes—whole weeks when I got the chance. People started calling me the ‘Puppy Guy’ or the ‘Puppy Man.’ Started expecting me. Some of them might actually know my name these days.”

Commenting on the puppy visits, Claire Walters, sophomore intercultural studies major, asks, “Who isn’t happy to see a bunch of roly-poly puppies falling all over themselves to see you? If you’re not a dog person, there’s no pressure for you to go anywhere near them, but really, who’s not a dog person?”

On JBU’s campus, of a small group of students polled, 89 percent of students say they have seen the “dog man on campus” but only 11 percent say they have never seen or even heard of him or the puppies. For most students, taking home these puppies isn’t an option, but for seniors and students with nearby families, adopting a Lyttle puppy is more feasible.

Lindsey Lyttle, a senior child and family studies major at John Brown University, began attending JBU Fall 2014. Since then, the couple has brought puppies to campus. “[Corwin] has always been around puppies and bred pit bull puppies with his older brother while he was growing up. I think he saw how I acted with the dog we had at home and thought other students could benefit from some puppy time as well, especially those far away from their families,” Lyttle said.

Corwin admitted that watching his and Lindsey’s son “play with puppies and grow up with puppies has been the real treat. . .He’s always so happy and excited with the puppies. I remember school and the little bit of college I did, it was sometimes exhausting and overwhelming. Balancing a military career, family at home, worklife, no matter what mood myself and family were in, puppies were always some sunshine.”

Nephtali Cantú, a senior music education major, recalls his desire to greet the puppies the first time he saw Lyttle’s canine companions on campus. While Cantú could not adopt them, he maintains, “If you’re having a bad day, it definitely brightens it!”

“My husband rescues them,” Lyttle said. “A lot of the puppies are mutts or breeds that most people turn their noses up at. Most of the time the puppies he brings home are ones he has found on his way home or from people he knows that are trying to find homes for them.”

Corwin said that his different connections lead him to the puppies who need homes. “I have friends that work with animal control that give me leads to dumped and abandoned puppies. People who call me because they can’t take care of their puppies and still want them to have good homes,” Corwin said. “Or, in the not so fun cases, I just find them in boxes on the side of the highway or wandering in the middle of nowhere. First thing I usually do with them is bring them to campus. Let the students and friends see them, play with them, even find them homes from students going back home for a few days or students that live off campus and want a roommate or a best friend. I don’t sell. Not on campus. To students, I know they usually just want a friend or miss their families and need the company.”

Kevin Gabbert, senior graphic design major, believes the puppies boost morale on campus. “With no sleep and plenty of stress, sometimes, puppies are probably the only thing I really want to see,” Gabbert said.

Lyttle said there are many times when she will come home from school and work to find a new puppy in her house. As a mother, wife, student and employee, Lyttle tries to focus on those tasks before the dogs. “My husband is usually the one to take care of the dogs,” Lyttle said.

Corwin added that usually he will have about three to five puppies. “I have had 12 puppies in the house at one time with six dogs outside. I wasn’t the most popular husband at that point. The puppies slept inside and I got the dog house. Not my proudest moment,” Corwin said.

JBU campus security doesn’t allow the Lyttles to sell the puppies, so instead, they give them away. “I’m passionate about finding the dogs good homes,” Lyttle said. “We’ve had several cases of dogs being abandoned on our property and have had some of our dogs go to people who use them for awful things. That’s why we stick to finding them homes on campus first because usually the students take the puppies home to their parents.”

Corwin agreed with his wife, saying he is also extremely passionate about finding the dogs homes. “I take it seriously. If a puppy goes home with someone and something bad happens, I take it as my fault. I could’ve done something more. It’s something that affects me even though I didn’t directly do it.”

Gabbert quips that the puppies’ appearances on campus may have a biblical warrant. “James 1:17 says that every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,” Gabbert said. “Puppies are from God. They are precious and help people relax and have fun. Keep bringing them to the quad, Corwin!”

Corwin has high hopes for his connection with the community of JBU as the honorary “Puppy Man” on campus and wants his connections to grow. “The coolest part about bringing puppies to campus is making friends. Putting smiles on faces, making students happy, brightening their day. It’s awesome. Almost just as cool is the campus is totally fine with it. Teachers will come play and pet the pups. . .staff, workers, passersby, students, incoming students and their families, everyone is welcome to come play with puppies. I love it.”