By Argen Duncan: PNT senior writer
Sniffs from friendly wet noses and furry faces inches from their own meet visitors to a certain apartment in Eastern New Mexico University’s West Campus Housing.
Vic and Tory, the university’s new greyhound mascots, are adjusting well to campus life and enjoying the attention of admirers, according to their caretakers, students Gilbert Valdez and Dallas Ellsworth.
“They’re a hoot,” Valdez, a graduate student in counseling, said.
The greyhounds are expected to make their official debut during halftime at the Jan. 23 men’s basketball game.
The dogs arrived in December and having been living with Valdez and Ellsworth in the campus apartment, except for a week spent with a local family, who wanted to keep them longer, while the students went away for Christmas.
“They’re really settling into this environment,” he said of the hounds.
The students are increasing Vic and Tory’s exposure to crowds and taking them on longer walks.
“We’ve just been loving them,” Valdez said.
When classes start, Ellsworth and Valdez expect a new routine with classes, Hound Handlers and “doggie daycare” in the Agriculture Building.
Now, every day, the dogs get a number of walks and 30 minutes or an hour of running free in an enclosed field. They eat high-protein food twice a day, and then take a nap, which Valdez said they enjoy.
“And that’s perfect for a college atmosphere,” he said. “I love to take naps. I took a nap with them today, actually.”
Ellsworth, a junior in graphic design, said Vic and Tory have loved the attention they receive and are curious. He said Tory is calm, while Vic is outgoing and wants to sniff everything.
Ellsworth and Valdez said people have responded to the dogs with pleasure. A trip to pick up new collars, which could have been done in 10 minutes, took half an hour because people wanted to see the dogs, Ellsworth said.
ENMU Director of Publications Janice Morrow, who handles the dogs’ publicity, said the hounds were content to wait through a meeting Wednesday and then met staff members.
“I think what amazed me most was the happiness on people’s faces,” she said.
Since the Albuquerque Journal published an article about the mascots and their roommates, Ellsworth said, they’ve heard of no negative feedback.
Valdez said taking care of Vic and Tory was almost like having normal dogs.
“They’re comedic when they need to be. They’re nurturing when they need to be. They’re loving when they need to be,” he said.
And through it all, Valdez said, he and Ellsworth are waiting to take a picture of Vic and Tory’s next noteworthy act, like proud fathers.