The idea of presidential pets, and not just dogs and cats, has been around as long as our country. The first U.S. President, George Washington, kept dogs, horses and even a donkey during his presidential term.
But move over Bo and Sunny, because there are some new dogs in town! Pi Phi’s own Grand President Paula Pace Shepherd, Texas Epsilon, has graced the Pi Phi world with our own First Dogs — Miniature Schnauzers Gretchen and Halle. I had a chance to sit down with them a few months ago at their home in Keller, Texas, and get the scoop on what it’s like to live with the Grand President herself.
Thanks for letting me come over today, and also for not barking when I came to the door. It was so gracious of you. I hope you didn’t get up early just for us. So Halle and Gretchen, the first big question everyone wants to know is who’s older?
Gretchen: A true lady never reveals her age, but since you’re a friend of Mom’s, I’m the older one, which of course means I’m the more mature and independent one. This one next to me follows mom around like a lost puppy, but me? I play it cool around here.
Halle, what do you say to that?
Halle: What can I say? I just want to be next to her. I’m pretty sure Gretchen secretly does too. She just doesn’t want to be labeled as needy. You know how girls are. But Mom is the greatest and her energy is contagious. So why would you NOT want to be around her 24/7?
I know your mom loves her role as Pi Phi’s Grand President, but it takes her out of town a lot. How do you handle her being gone?
Halle: It’s pretty rough, but we know it’s all a part of her presidential duties. I may or may not be known to have a slight freakout (Editor’s note: We’ve heard it might be a little more than slight) when she brings out the suitcases, but I know it’s for the betterment of Pi Phi and the amazing sisterhood ya’ll have.
Gretchen: We have been known to mope around when she’s gone, but Dad is equally as awesome and he makes sure to spoil us while it’s just him and his girls. Plus, Mom never has to worry about us because he’s not one of those helpless dads. He’s a veterinarian so he knows how to take care of us.
What’s your daily routine? I bet you get weekly massages and dinner served on silver platters, right?
Gretchen: Nah, nothing like that. Despite our title we are really just your normal, spoiled dogs. We get up, do whatever we feel like during the day and spend lots of quality time with Mom if she’s home. I love to hang out on the top of the couch because I can see everything from there. And if the weather’s nice, then we’ll run around outside a bit and get some exercise. A girl’s got to watch her figure!
What do you think of your mom and dad being featured in this edition of The Arrow?
Gretchen: It’s about time! A Grand President hasn’t been on the cover since I’ve been alive (Editor’s note: She’s five). Plus, I’m hoping Halle and I will make an appearance or two. We are actually a pretty big deal. Speaking of, maybe we should get our own Twitter account. What do you think Halle?
Halle: I dunno Gretchen. I feel like I’d rather spend my free time hanging out with mom upstairs while she works out and watch “Dancing with the Stars” than figure out how to use her iPad, you know? Plus after I play with all our toys, I need a nap! I don’t see how we could possibly have time for Twitter.
Do you think you’ll be more popular once the magazine comes out? Any chance at your own talk show?
Halle: No way! Like Mom says, we’re just regular people and she just happened to be chosen to be the Grand President. I think we’ll stick to just being us. With a few more fans of course.
Did you know you aren’t the first Miniature Schnauzers to be a first dog? President Rutherford B. Hayes, had one named Otis while he was in office.
Gretchen: Who’s Rutherford B. Hayes?
I think that’s a pretty common question. He was the 19th President of the United States and became President 10 years after Pi Beta Phi was founded almost 150 years ago.
Gretchen: So he wouldn’t want to follow us on Twitter?
I don’t think that’s possible. But it IS possible for people to see some of the footage from today’s video shoot, right?
Halle: Yes! If you want to see a glimpse into our lives, click this link. We’ve put together something awesome with the help of the Headquarters staff. We really hope you like it.
Thanks for being such gracious hosts today guys. And tell your mom thanks for the breakfast.
Gretchen: Anytime. Unless of course you are interrupting my nap. Or my time with Mom. Or Dad. Maybe not anytime. You better call our agent, she’ll set something up. (Editor’s note: Gretchen and Halle do not in fact have an agent, but they do have Grand President Paula Pace Shepherd as their mom, and that’s even more cool.)
This post is courtesy of Oregon Gamma Amara Fanucci, Leadership Development Consultant.
Life as a Pi Phi can get pretty hectic. I don’t think I’ve met a single collegian who hasn’t been involved in multiple clubs, held a job on campus, or volunteered in addition to being a member of Pi Beta Phi. Some seem to do it all and still have time to hang out with sisters and keep up with current events. It’s quite impressive, but being too busy can also mean some important things start to slip. I know I’ve often felt like getting everything done on my to-do list means not doing the things that enrich my life. In the spirit of New Year resolutions, here are my thoughts on the top five things every Pi Phi should do a little more often!
- Reach out to friends: It is way too easy to deprioritize friends when life gets crazy, but resist that urge! When you look back on your time in college (or any phase of life for that matter), the memories made with friends and sisters will matter most to you. I joined Pi Phi because I knew I wanted to leave college with incredible friendships, and those friendships mean the world to me now. I was able to feel that way by being intentional with my time and making sure to spend free time with those who bring me joy. Hang out in the TV room or campus coffee shop with sisters. If you are an alumna, pick up the phone and reach out to a sister you haven’t talked to in a while. You won’t be sorry you did!
- Set goals: One of the best ways to feel accomplished and productive is goal setting. When you take the time to think about what you want to get done or achieve, it makes big and daunting tasks seem much more manageable. I think C.S. Lewis said it best: “You are never too old to set a new goal or to dream a new dream.”
- Read a good book: One of my favorite things to do is read, but in college I did so much mandatory reading I stopped doing it for fun. I really wish I had done more “just for fun” reading because I forgot how much I loved it. There are so many incredible books, and everyone can find a few minutes each day to pick up a good book and recharge for a little while.
- Learn something new: There are so many ways to learn these days, but few people take the time to seek those out. Watch a tutorial, spend an hour viewing TED Talks, or read The Skimm email newsletter for five minutes every morning. Whether you want to learn a new skill, understand something new, or just keep up to date on world news, there are tons of different ways to do so right at your fingertips.
- Be thankful and appreciate others: No matter who you are, we can all be a little kinder, a little more thankful and a little more appreciative. Take the time to tell your Chapter President how much you admire her or compliment a sister who seems down. Those thoughtful gestures will not go unnoticed, and I guarantee you they will make someone’s day.
Doing even one of these things just a little bit more will not just enrich 2015, but will help you feel fulfilled for many years to come!