What has been the best thing to arrive at Merton this year? Sorry freshers – these third years would say, without a shadow of a doubt, Geoffrey Biscuit. Who is Geoffrey Biscuit? The answer: the most adorable golden retriever and the Merton Warden’s new puppy.
Irene Tracey (the Merton Warden and Head of Department of Clinical Neurosciences) has already proved very popular with students since she joined the college last year, and as I’m sure you can imagine, the arrival of a puppy to the Merton community has done nothing to hinder that. When we got in touch with Irene to ask for the pleasure of walking Geoffrey, in order to share our experiences of walking a college dog (a popular Covid-friendly welfare activity), she was more than happy to oblige.
We collected Geoffrey from the Warden’s Lodging on a crisp, autumnal afternoon, and were warned that he could prove somewhat strong-willed at points. We soon saw exactly why this warning was necessary, as there were some struggles in getting him to actually leave college (a fairly critical part of a successful walk) – although he did look very cute rolling around in the gardens. Armed with treats and enthusiasm, we managed to make it to Christ Church Meadows.
As one could anticipate with a puppy, something that ended up being highly important to our walk were sticks. Geoffrey did not hold back from seizing every opportunity to find and pick up sticks. This did prove a hindrance to actually walking at points – but there was something very endearing about seeing his excitement every time as if he’d never seen one before. His carefree nature was highly contagious, and definitely made our day.
The purpose of this article was not just for us to boost our own welfare through some quality time with Geoffrey, but also to enable us to selflessly provide you with advice for walking SU or college dogs yourselves. Our main takeaway? Keep a careful eye out for puddles, particularly those of a muddy variety, especially if the dog in question is slightly clumsy. In the short term seeing Geoffrey roll directly into an exceptionally muddy puddle was somewhat amusing. However, concerns soon arose around returning a previous golden puppy to our warden in something of a state. Thankfully, we managed to remove the worst of the mud, and she did not mind.
Overall, if you’re looking to brighten your day and the opportunity arises to walk a dog, particularly one as cute as Geoffrey Biscuit, we would heartily recommend the experience. The days are getting shorter and colder, but don’t let this deter you from taking advantage of the lovely parks Oxford has to offer with a dog for company.
And as if Geoffrey’s overwhelming cuteness and the joy of hearing about his escapades on our walk was not enough for you, he also answered some interview questions we had for him about life as a new puppy in Oxford (check out his Twitter for more):
What do you look for in a good stick?
Crunch is crucial. If there is a leaf or two involved, all the better.
Where is the best place you’ve gone for a walk in Oxford?
Christ Church Meadows is my go-to. Feel I am really scoping out that territory, making it my own, you know? I haven’t made it round a whole lap, though – it’s pretty big.
We came across a lovely photo of you on Twitter supporting local businesses during lockdown – do you have any favourites? Any places you’d recommend?
The Missing Bean is a firm favourite, I always get lots of love in the queue there. Also Taylors. They let me come in once, even though they don’t normally let dogs in. Then again, I’m no normal dog
How do you keep your fur looking so soft and tidy?
I go to a groomer once a month. She’s a nice lady but her hot, loud blowy friend is very obnoxious. Not that I’m scared of it. I bark at it to make it quiet, you know, to protect the nice lady, and that tends to do the trick.
What’s your favourite way to spend an afternoon?
Nap. Stretch. Wee. Nap. Carrot. Nap. Walk. Dinner. Nap. Cuddles. Bed.
One additional comment from the Notorious GB:
Can I just add, it’s been a real delight coming to Merton. You’ve all made me feel very welcome, and I love seeing you all around the college. Thanks for all the love, the feeling is mutual xoxo.