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Dog days of college

Kelly Meehan | Monday, February 12, 2007

During winter break, I was cleaning out my bedroom closet when I made the discovery of a lifetime.

Better than my saved box of notes I exchanged with my friends during middle school, more noteworthy than my high school yearbook and certainly more entertaining than my elementary school journal.

My discovery revealed the Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s class register – more commonly known as the “dog book” – containing the senior snapshots of my classmates.

To some, this phrase might seem as foreign as a sunny day during a South Bend winter, but for those of us who experienced the “prehistoric” Facebook-free life, the “dog book” conjures memories of fun, friendship and – more commonly – sheer embarrassment.

I am not sure if this class register still exists, but I can be certain that – thanks to Web sites like Facebook – it does not have the same impact it once did.

The sad thing is, the virtual vice flails in comparison to the glory the dog book once held.

The 8 x 11 blue paperback does not give participants the option to change their mug shot on an hourly basis – what you see is what you get.

You cannot add that Dave Matthews Band quote to symbolize your feelings of lost love, you cannot supplement your serious pic with a “**Gettin’ LOCO in AcApUlCo**” album and you certainly cannot make others wonder about an inside joke posted on a friend’s wall.

With the dog book, everything remained a mystery.

When the dorm room phone rang on a Friday afternoon and “John Doe” asked you to the Dillon SYR, you quickly looked him up in your trusty dog book and took what you could get … maybe.

Feeling bored with some friends? Rank the best-looking students of the opposite sex.

And who can forget panning through the pages to figure out whom exactly you met at that dorm party the night before.

Maybe being a part of the “dog book” generation has made us a little gutsier (not knowing the relationship status of a crush), maybe it made us a little less judgmental (maybe he just took a bad picture) or maybe it just made us all a little more bizarre (extending an invitation to a total stranger).

In any case however we looked – skinnier, fatter, mulleted or hairier – during the summer or fall of 2002 will be forever immortalized in the book that is a classic example of the Notre Dame/Saint Mary’s freshman tradition.

So here’s to those of us who look ugly, hot, scary, nerdy or just plain crazy in their high school senior portrait. It is time to sit back and laugh because the dog book does not forgive with “recently updated profiles.”