Rachel Wiseman

UChicago creatures

Big dog on campus

Meet Yoder, the presidential dog.

Claire Zulkey

“His constitution is kind.” That’s one of the phrases that classics professor Shadi Bartsch-Zimmer has learned to say in Chinese to campus visitors intimidated by Yoder, her 110-pound greater Swiss mountain dog. Her original attempt to be reassuring, “He does not eat people” (because she didn’t know the word for “bite”) tended to make people more scared, she says.

Yoder (an ancient Swiss surname) came prenamed when Bartsch-Zimmer adopted him three years ago. The breed is known as a “poor man’s horse” for its ability to pull carts.

At home, where he is accompanied by Elsie, a shyer, smaller mountain dog, Yoder is a pizza stealer, a cheese licker, “one jealous dude,” who takes Prozac to alleviate anxiety-induced panting, says Bartsch-Zimmer. But on campus, Yoder is a happy-go-lucky, giant stuffed animal of a dog. He enjoys being patted by new friends at the campus health fair Wellapalooza and mugging for the camera by sitting and shaking on command. “Hollywood, here I come!” Bartsch-Zimmer narrates as Yoder handles his photo shoot like a pro (thanks in part to a sandwich bag full of treats).

See more photos of Yoder.


Yoder is ready for his close-up. (Photography by Drew Reynolds)