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Remembering Finn, Pingry’s “Official/Unofficial Mascot”


Remembering Finn, Pingry’s “Official/Unofficial Mascot”
Greg Waxberg

It was a common sight at Pingry to see students and adults crowd around Finn, Pingry’s beloved Border Collie, everywhere on campus, especially in The Bear Pause (school store), where he spent a lot of his time, and more recently in the Business Office suite.

“I could not walk him anywhere without, ‘Hi, Finn!’ . . . ‘Oh, can I take a selfie with Finn?’ . . .  ‘Tell me about Finn’ . . . ‘Can I pet Finn?’ He became part of the community—students would even come looking for him if they were having a rough day,” reflects Barbara Chilmonik, Director of Procurement and Promotions.

Sadly, Finn passed away unexpectedly on March 31.

If it’s possible for one moment to illustrate what Finn meant to the community, Ms. Chilmonik believes it’s the outpouring of emotion—notes from students, condolence cards, reactions on social media.

“He was our friend, receiving our affection easily and always, and his presence on campus and in our hallways brightened all of our days,” said Head of School Tim Lear.

Finn was 10 years old (he would have turned 11 in October) and had been with Pingry since 2015 to—according to his “official” job description—chase geese from Pingry’s fields as part of the School’s sustainability efforts (he came from Big Bend Farm in Millboro, VA, a farm that trains Border Collies for goose control). But Finn became much more than that. “His stated mission was to keep geese off the fields,” Ms. Chilmonik says, “but the role he assumed was ‘superstar of celebrity status’! It was like he became our official/unofficial mascot.”

Originally, Finn lived with Director of Auxiliary Programs Cindy McArthur and her family, then lived with Ms. Chilmonik and her husband, John, Building Trades Supervisor for the Basking Ridge Campus, since about 2017. Ms. Chilmonik even relates a funny story from early in Finn’s time at Pingry, when he caused Mrs. McArthur to panic because she thought he wasn’t feeling well. Several phone calls later, a group of adults rushed to campus, thinking they had to rush Finn to the vet. When Mrs. McArthur drove up, Finn jumped out of the car with a big smile on his face, happy to see everyone—there was nothing wrong with him . . . he had faked the whole thing!

“I picture him [now] with his big, goofy Finn smile,” Ms. Chilmonik says. “He was a good boy.”

Contact: Greg Waxberg ’96, Communications Writer, Editor of The Pingry Review

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