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What Does Mary Sammel Do When She Is Not Being a Statistician?

1 June 2017 254 views No Comment
This column focuses on what statisticians do when they are not being statisticians. If you would like to share your pastime with readers, please email Megan Murphy, Amstat News managing editor.

Sammel

Who are you, and what is your statistics position?

My name is Mary Dupuis Sammel, and I am a professor of biostatistics at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

Tell us about what you like to do for fun when you are not being a statistician.

I am a volunteer puppy raiser for The Seeing Eye, an organization that trains guide dogs for the visually impaired. This is an activity for the whole family—my husband, daughter, and son. We foster a puppy from 8–10 weeks of age until he/she is 15 months old. We do basic house training and expose the puppies to as many situations in our world as we can. We are raising our fourth puppy, a female German Sheppard named Blossom. Blossom is almost 14 months old, so she will be leaving us soon to go off to her next adventure.

What drew you to this hobby, and what keeps you interested?

As my children grew older, I missed having a little one to take care of, so now I have a puppy baby. I love getting a new dog and enjoy teaching them to walk on a leash. And let’s face it, who can resist a cute puppy?

Mary Dupuis Sammel raises puppies–like Everett, above–for The Seeing Eye, an organization that trains guide dogs for the visually impaired.

We belong to a local puppy raiser’s club, which meets once a month. We share training tips and take the puppies on outings to places like the movies, bowling alleys, baseball games, and even wine tasting. I’ve made some new friends. We puppy sit for one another and get the dogs together to play. Having a dog helps me break away from my computer, get outside, and move. Also, as an introvert, having a puppy in public takes the attention off me and gives me something to talk about.

What really inspires me is that, after the dog has returned to The Seeing Eye and completed its training, the raiser is invited to see the puppy do a demonstration called a Town Walk. We don’t get to interact with the dog, but we see how they guide through the city and across busy streets. It is amazing! After the demo, we get to chat with our puppy’s trainer, who has grown to love our dog, too.

Once the dogs are matched with a person and they train together, we receive a postcard telling us a little about our dog’s new owner. It is fulfilling, yet bittersweet. I am so proud of our two dogs, currently working as guides. Our third puppy, Fawn, is a breeder. We hope to raise one of Fawn’s puppies in the future and, when she retires, become her owners.

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