Yale University

Class News

Handsome Dan becomes Chairman of the Board

On June 25, 2015, Handsome Dan XVII received a letter from the Center for Canine Behavior Studies asking that he consider becoming the Chairman of their Board of Canine Advisors. Handsome Dan responded immediately by letter, stating that he would be honored to be so named. In his response, Dan enclosed an earlier letter to Andy Rooney of CBS's "60 Minutes" in which Dan's predecessor Handsome Dan XIII expressed agreement with Mr. Rooney's opinion of the intelligence of bulldogs.

By way of background, you may want to watch this video of Mr. Rooney's piece on the intelligence of dogs. Then you can read the three letters reproduced below, for the record.

June 25,2015

Mr. Handsome Dan XVII
c/o Mr. Christopher Getman, M.A.
President, Soundview Capital Management Corporation
31 Whitney Avenue
New Haven. Connecticut 06510

Dear Mr. Dan,

I write to introduce our organization with the purpose of extending an invitation to you to be the Chairman of our Board of Canine Ambassadors.

The Center for Canine Behavior Studies (CCBS) is headquartered in Salisbury, Connecticut, but we are part of The Simon Foundation, Inc. (TSF) in Bloomfield, an IRS-approved 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

TSF is one of Connecticut's largest animal rescue shelters and adoption organizations, placing more than 500 animals a year in forever homes with an enviable relinquishment rate of less than 5%. At any given time TSF has 100+ canines for adoption — many of whom were literally reprieved from the jaws of death.

CCBS would love to have you as Chairman of its Board of Canine Ambassadors and recognizes you to be eminently qualified. This honorary position would require little more than lending your gravitas in support of spreading the word about CCBS and our mission. As the mascot of Yale — Connecticut's # 1 university — you are not only experienced in marketing, branding, spreading good cheer, generating enthusiasm, and boosting morale, but are widely recognized and admired as one of Connecticut's most historic and current icons.

As Chairman of the CCBS Board of Canine Ambassadors, you could immeasurably contribute to saving the lives of fellow canines, not just across Connecticut but across America. Millions of innocent canine brothers and sisters this very minute are awaiting unnecessarily euthanasia. In truth, the only crime they are guilty of is that they are homeless — and their punishment will be death!

IT IS KNOWN that unacceptable behavior is the # 1 killer of dogs under the age of 3, and

IT IS KNOWN that dog owners can unwittingly and unknowingly influence their dog's misbehavior that breaks the human-canine bond that can lead to relinquishment and euthanasia.

Knowing this, two of the world's most renowned animal behaviorists, Dr. Nicholas Dodman (Tufts University) and Dr. James Serpell, PhD (University of Pennsylvania) have come together to develop what will be the largest owner-dog personality-behavior study ever conducted with a view to establishing once and for all how owner personality and psychological status affects a companion dog's behavior, especially unacceptable behavior.

From the results of this 2-year study (administered by Tufts University and expected to have more than 10,000 study participants worldwide), Dedman and Serpell ultimately expect to be able to help dog owners understand the influence they are having on their companion dog's behavior and to be able to help owners modify their interactions with their dogs in a positive and timely way in order to preserve that relationship, reduce relinquishment, and work toward the eventual goal of putting the practice of canine euthanasia into the past once and for all.

Mr. Dan, as Chairman of the CCBS Board of Canine Ambassadors you would be associated with a Scientific Advisory Board that includes some of the world's leading canine behaviorists and cognitivists. While Dr. Laurie Santos, Ph.D., head of the Yale Canine Cognition Department, cannot (at this time) be a member of our Scientific Advisory Board due to a book commitment she must complete, she is a friend of CCBS. Dr. Santos is, however, on the Scientific Advisory Board of Dr. Brian Hare's company Dognition and Dr. Hare is a CCBS Scientific Advisory Board member.

I realize that accepting this invitation may not be your decision alone and that you will likely seek the counsel of your dad Christopher Getman, and will likely need to discuss this with Mr. Patrick O'Neill, Associate Athletic Director for Marketing/Licensing.

If accepting the board chair and helping to save the lives of fellow canines is of interest, I hope you will be able to convince them to allow you to accept our invitation. I am more than willing to speak with them as well.

On behalf of the entire TSF/CCBS team, thank you for your consideration and we would be honored to count you as a team member.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Chris P . Janelli
Executive Director

August 18, 2015

Mr.  Chris P. Janelli
Center for Canine Behavior Studies
Box 532
Salisbury, Conn. 06068

Dear Mr. Janelli

Thank you so much for reaching out to me on behalf of the CCBS and TSF.  I would be honored to serve as Chairman of the Board and promise to take my responsibilities very seriously. I admire the work that both of you are doing.  Let me know what is expected of me, and I will be sure to respond.

I agree with you that it’s of utmost importance to do everything possible to protect my doomed cousins and friends who, through no fault of their own, are subjected to unconscionable fates, and am flattered that you would choose a Bulldog to serve in such an exalted role.

I recall my predecessor, Handsome Dan XIII, a/k/a Maurice, writing to Andy Rooney on "60 Minutes" when he growled after reading a book called The Intelligence of Dogs that the border collie was deemed the smartest, the poodle #2, and the German shepherd #3, while the bulldog was #77.  He then produced a bulldog, who looked just like him, and asked him to roll over.  When the bulldog did nothing, Mr. Rooney remarked, “You can see he’s an independent thinker.” Attached is Maurice’s letter to Mr. Rooney.

In my new capacity I hope to raise the perceived level of intelligence of the bulldog dramatically.

The folks at Yale are delighted about this honor as well.

When do I report for duty?

Sincerely yours,

Handsome Dan XVII.

P.S. My owner, Chris Getman, taught for five years at Hotchkiss and knows the area well. He tells me that I should be envious that you’re headquartered in Salisbury.

P.P.S.  Under separate cover I will send you a video of me doing my job at commencement.

286 Livingston Street
New Haven, Conn. 06511

October 29, 1992

Mr. Andy Rooney,
60 Minutes
524 W. 57th St.
New York, NY 10024

Dear Mr. Rooney,

I watched with interest your piece on the intelligence of dogs, and am as offended as you are about the woeful # 77 ranking of the bulldog.

When I was at the Harvard Game last year, the Yale band had figured out that the Harvard Glee Club was going to sing following their performance. They put a mike on me and took me out to the 50-yard line. The announcer then said: “We want to introduce what we know will be the best voice on the field today. Dan, we understand that you’ve spent your entire life at an institution of higher learning but have yet to matriculate and we wonder if you’re qualified to go to Harvard.”

I rolled over, whereupon the announcer said, “Oh, we see you’re overqualified to go to Harvard, but would you rather go to Harvard or die?” I plopped down on the spot. Then the announcer asked me to join the band in singing “Bulldog, bulldog, bow, wow, wow” — the Cole Porter ditty — giving me the solo on the "bow, wow, wow" chorus over my microphone.

I received a standing ovation and was mentioned in The Times. Try that, border collie!

Mr. Rooney, you’re right about bulldogs, the most popular mascot in the United States. We are tough and fearless. Can you imagine the Marines charging into battle yelling “Go border collies?” Do you think that if Herschel Walker had been a poodle he’d have won the Heisman Trophy? Finally, Mr. Rooney, if you looked like a German shepherd, you wouldn’t have a job.

Sincerely yours,
Handsome Dan XIII a/k/a Maurice