Chapel Hill pets: Waging, slithering and smiling their way into our hearts

By Trent Brown

Captain Jack Sparrow from “Pirates of the Caribbean” and Negan’s baseball bat named “Lucille” from “The Walking Dead” aren’t usually mentioned in the same breath. However, in the white house on the corner of Lindsay Street, they’re talked about together all the time.

Jacqueline “Jackie” Lucille, a Havanese dog, is one of the many pets owned by a UNC student that you might come across while walking through campus on a sunny afternoon, taking a trip to the outdoor patio at He’s Not Here or even in classrooms. She makes her own case for being one of the most special pets in Chapel Hill.

Jackie enjoys walking around UNC’s campus. (Photo by Hannah Bultman)

Physically, Jackie doesn’t hold a lot of common characteristics with her namesakes. Standing less than 1 foot tall and no more than 4 inches wide, the tiny mound of fur greets anyone who enters the door with her toothy smile and a bark (or two!). However, it only takes about 10 seconds—or even less if you pet her fast enough—for Jackie to become a friend of yours. She likes to skip the acquaintance stage.

Jackie is affectionately referred to as “little cow” by her owner’s friends, due to her white fur covered in black inkblots on both of her ears and down her back. She roams around the room like she’s on a mission to find something—probably attention—abiding by her attention-seeking namesake Jack Sparrow. It’s easy to see why Hannah Bultman, the owner of this bright little pup, keeps her around.

For the past year or so, Jackie has kept Bultman company in their crowded two-story house, after her brother bought the dog and found that he could not take care of her. Bultman decided that she would gladly take in and support the dog; but support isn’t just what Bultman does for Jackie—it’s what Jackie provides for Bultman.

Bultman registered Jackie as an emotional support dog this past year, because the puppy does exactly that for her. “I’m a very introverted person, and I like being alone,” said Bultman. “But Jackie makes it a little more possible to be alone. She’s been really good for me.”

According to the American College Health Association, nearly one in six college students struggle with anxiety. Although there are many ways to cope with anxiety, for Bultman, a chemistry and Spanish major, there is no better way than the presence of a dog, big or small, that just wants to get attention, and maybe give a little back.

And that’s Jackie. She doesn’t like to fetch balls, but instead mashed-down plastic Mountain Dew bottles, or really whatever she can fit her mouth around—even if she really can’t. Occasionally, she will take things from Bultman’s roommates’ rooms and bring it to her Butlman’s door, as a gift. She also finds herself at almost every chapter meeting at UNC’s Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity, making it more enjoyable for everyone there.

Don’t bring out a balloon though, or you’ll have to coax her out from under the bed. It won’t take too long for her to get her to bounce back to her normal exuberance—a blissful bounce at that.

 Mac, the snake charmer

“I told my mom I wanted a pony or a snake,” said Mac Harrison, now in her third year at UNC, recalling what kind of pet she wanted for her birthday five years ago.

The 4-foot long albino corn snake named Tyrell finds his home in a large tank at Harrison’s house. He’s a good boy, or girl, in Harrison’s eyes, who, due to the ambiguity and difficulty of determining a snake’s sex, has relied on a gut feeling that her pet is a Tyrell and not a Tyreisha.

Unlike a Jackie, or most any kind of furry friend for that matter, Tyrell doesn’t have a conventional personality. However, Harrison is certain that he does have one, and it’s one that loves to spend time with her.

And although you may never see Tyrell getting taken for a walk through McCorkle Place on campus, you might find Tyrell at home watching television with his owner, because that’s his personal favorite pastime. Snuggled inside her hair or arms, because snakes don’t like to sit—they like to hide.

Harrison and Tyrell love to cuddle. (Photo by Mac Harrison)

Beginning next year, Harrison will have her snake with her in Chapel Hill at her apartment, because her current dorm does not allow tanks like Tyrell’s, and she cannot wait. The slithery not-so-little guy with orange skin, who only requires food once per month in the shape of a frozen mouse, and shows his affection by simply laying on you, will surely be treated like a king during his time in Chapel Hill.

“I wrap him around my neck like a little scarf and he just hangs out,” said Harrison, as her eyes glistened, longing to be back with her boy.

Capturing cuteness

It started with a fun idea between two friends.

Alex Kormann and Isabel Donnolo asked each other: “Why don’t we start one of those dog Instagram accounts?” The @DogsOfUNC Instagram account began during FallFest in 2016, and now has over 1,700 followers, mostly comprised of UNC students.

The Instagram account’s process is fairly simple. Kormann or Donnolo will notice a dog in the quad, or somewhere else on campus, and they’ll ask the owner: “Hi, can I take a picture of your dog?” Recently they have even begun taking requests for short photo shoots on campus with dogs.

Kormann noted that, interestingly enough, he has yet to be turned down after asking to photograph someone’s dog. He always gets an excited “yes.”

Each dog portrait is then posted to the Instagram account, usually with a short caption of their name and their age, and accumulates over 400 likes at a time. It’s not about the internet fame for the photographers, but more so the catharsis of the process.

In the mix of being a photography major and doing other work, Kormann said that taking pictures of dogs is a “therapeutic way to keep on keeping on.”

Simba strolling through UNC’s lower quad. (Photo by @DogsOfUNC)

The photos come with a bit of fun, too. The picture of Simba, one of the account’s most “liked” puppy, was likely the most memorable photoshoot for Kormann. The little 8-week-old golden retriever ran around for over 20 minutes in the campus’ lower quad, with Kormann trailing behind, never stopping to offer a still shot for a picture. Finally, the puppy stopped, squatted and peed, before finally laying down and submitting to all photography needs.

“The memorability is definitely in the cuteness,” Kormann said, with a laugh.


Edited by Liz Chen