One of the strange doghouses located in the woods behind Newell apartments.

In the Doghouse - Cook-ing Up Oddities

By Jessica Teal

What is it about the odd animal stuff on Cook/Douglass campus? Every time the RR Team ventures behind a building on this campus there is some strange animal set-up, pens or tools of husbandry, carefully tucked into the camouflaging shrubbery. From the mammoth-sized rabbits in pens behind University Inn to the clanging, shrieking pig rats off Sheepfold Lane, there is always something weird (and usually smelly) involving animals around here. This time Co-Investigator Ray gets all the credit for discovering unused but carefully hidden hand-made doghouses hidden in the woods right behind the Newell apartments on Cook. The two little houses are odd affairs as one seems to have definitely been lived in by some larger pooch as it is filled with an old blanket & papers that something used for warmth and comfort. The other doghouse is very small and looks almost like more of a birdhouse or ferret-home than a place to keep a dog. Both places look hand-made and their placement in the shrubbery seems to suggest that someone kept their pets out here. What’s odd is that Ray had chanced upon these structures a few days earlier and when the RR Team visited it recently, Ray noticed that someone had exchanged one of the doghouses for a different one. The smaller one wasn’t the same doghouse that was in the same spot a few days prior, according to Co-Investigator Ray. Is somebody crafting doghouses and leaving their efforts behind the Newell apartments? Why? Dog-house construction could be an interesting hobby, I suppose, I mean look how many people love building crappy little birdhouses, but why stash them in the tick-infested and thorn-bush covered underbrush on Cook? We may never know...

Now as much as we appreciate a good old doghouse finding, nothing compares to catching a glimpse of an exclusive, exotic cathouse, hidden away in the woods where the sleek beauties tout their wares to a private clientele. Ahem, ewrr, anyway, the RR Team also explored another odd animal setup down the road from the doghouses, near Starkey apartments, where some concerned citizens made a nice little outdoor kennel for all the stray cats of Cook, complete with their own open carriers, blankets and bowls of food and water. We saw kittens and grown-up cats lounging about in this strange space behind and right up against some utility/storage sheds. There is also a friendly raccoon who feasts on the kitty food and water. That little bear regarded Ray and I without the slightest interest as it rapidly chewed up its evening meal over a bowl of water. These cats (and the raccoon) have a pretty good shelter in this spot, though again, like the doghouses, the RR Team wonders who set all this up and why? When you’re on a campus full of nutty biologists the answer seems obvious- creepy non-laboratory animal testing & experimentation- but no, this place seems pretty well-intentioned. There’s even a note telling people to enjoy the facilities but “keep the pond clean” (???). There are cats everywhere and while they seem skittish, they clearly are used to people, seem normal and haven’t gone feral in the woods.

Other oddities noted in this neck of the woods on Cook were a seeing-eye dog puppy pen and tons of large plastic pods that even though they look other-wordly, are really just there to protect bikes- we think. I actually tried to climb into a locked pair and saw that I could fit in the pod nicely. This was a relief as I’d hate to have to travel to my home planet in anything less than the most spacious accommodations. Heh heh. Anyway, Cook campus is rapidly becoming the new frontier for weird on the RR hit list. Give us a yell, if you know of further oddness that we haven’t yet hit.


The smaller white doghouse that recently replaced a larger model.

The more lived-in woodshed doghouse annex adorned with the finest newspapers and water bowls.

What appeared to be unassuming bike cocoons turned out to be alien di-pod transportation units - go figure.

Di-pods travel in packs - these rare shots show their normally well-hidden landing pads.

Ricky the RR Raccoon, spotted feasting on cat food, could care less about a few snapshots. Apparently Fancy Feast is so good that even nocturnal creatures get up at the break of dawn to chow down.

More semi-hidden structures that more-than-likely house the occassional lemming, aardvark, or meerkat - I've heard.

A sign for a pond that could not be located, and a black kitten living under one of the strategically placed sheds in the area.


©Rutgers Rarities and Unexplained Phenomena, 2005