By Kate Silber ’20, Arshiya Bhayana ’22, and Max Cox ’23
Soon after moving onto campus, ‘Presidential Pup’ Peanut Raymond-Backus became something of a local celebrity; this ascent to Haver-fame only accelerated with the creation of her Instagram account. As of March 4, @peanutprezpup has 588 followers on Instagram who enthusiastically keep up with the beagle’s adventures around Haverford College and Ardmore. Her dad, David Backus ‘82, is a geologist and the husband of President Wendy Raymond. The Clerk sat down with Backus to learn more about the campus’s favorite four-legged friend.
Peanut is a 7-year-old beagle from Kannapolis, North Carolina. She joined the Backus-Raymond family in November of 2016 after being adopted from the Humane Society of Concord and Greater Cabarrus County. Her parents were living and working at Davidson College at the time. Backus says that they always knew Peanut is very bright – she figured out how to cheat the shelter’s auto-feeders and steal food from the dog she shared a kennel with.
With Haverford’s Arboretum located just steps away from the back porch, Peanut has taken an interest in the on-campus wildlife. Backus says that she is particularly fascinated by a fox den in the backyard of their 1 College Circle home: “We see the foxes sometimes in the morning, just hanging out. There’s two of them… they’ve hidden by a piece of lawn art that’s been removed, so now it [the den] is right out in the open.”
While Peanut is curious about the fox den in her backyard, she is always wary. As Backus said, “If a fox ever popped up, I don’t know what she would do.”
It’s safe to say Peanut has adjusted well to 1CC, with beds in the study room, kitchen, and sitting room. While she’s not much of a retriever dog as far as fetching toys is concerned, she does like snuggling up and sleeping next to her stuffed bear.
Peanut has a particular affinity for a couch inherited from Raymond’s mother. “She sort of camps out there. If you see some bright colored quilt and flower couch in the pictures, that’s that!” Backus said.
Backus told us about a distinctive characteristic of beagles: a scrunched up forehead is indicative of particularly focused sniffing. On our walk with Peanut, we observed her being completely engrossed in sniffing her surroundings, especially the aforementioned fox den.
Using this information of Peanut’s passion for sniffing the ground, we segued into asking Backus what Peanut’s academic interests would be if she were a student at Haverford. With a chuckle, Backus came up with a double Neuroscience and self-designed Food Studies major for Peanut. While a Neuroscience major was telling because of her strong curiosity and interest in the perception of the sense of smell, the Food Studies major speaks to Peanut’s love for dropped food such as bagels and paninis outside the DC, as is seen on @peanutprezpup. Backus also shared the story of when there was coffee and donuts at Founders Green in the Fall of 2019. Peanut went completely wild going after the donuts.
In fact, during our interview with Backus, the Dining Center catering crew started setting up the house for an event later in the evening. Peanut was an excellent host, greeting them at the door and eyeing their food. The catering crew also makes sure to take care of Peanut as well— a recent Instagram post showcased a custom place card they made for her.
Moving on from discussing Peanut’s hypothetical academic interests, we asked Backus about the clubs and organizations Peanut would join if she were a Haverford student. Backus named track and social committees as possibilities, but definitely not acapella due to her less-than-musical barking: “She doesn’t sing too much … we try to cut down on her barking at other dogs. She is very protective of us and the property here.”
As any of her Instagram followers know, Peanut has an active social life, ranging from students excitedly petting her to interacting with other campus dogs. Peanut is good friends with Sebby, Professor Susanna Wing’s dog. Backus noted that “Sebby is very casual” so the pair “will sort of just lie down and sniff one another.” However, otherwise, “she’s actually kind of scared of other dogs”—even if sniffing them may be enticing.
While sprinting around, or ‘zooming’ as Peanut calls it in her Instagram captions, has become a familiar feature of Peanut’s social media presence, Backus says that she hasn’t always been this active. “When we got her, she was this little sausage, she didn’t run around too much. But then, after putting her on a diet and walking her around, she got more and more frisky and started to do lots of running around in the yard… She gets very energetic when we’re out on walks.
Peanut enjoys the slightly cooler weather for running. Peanut also enjoys the snow, although she only experienced it a couple days each year in North Carolina and hasn’t seen much during her time at Haverford so far either.
Curious as ever, Peanut enjoyed inspecting the camera equipment and getting right up into the lens. She would frequently wander away, nose to the ground, before bolting back to one of our cameras.
Peanut seems to love the attention that comes with her new role as Haverford’s First Dog. According to Backus, her Instagram emerged from student suggestions. Backus produces most of the content for @peanutprezpup, but President Raymond has final editorial control.
Asked for one of his favorite stories about Peanut, Backus talked more about how Peanut has enjoyed the move to Haverford. At Davidson College, she didn’t like going onto campus as much, but now she loves the open space and going out to see students on her walks.
She knew right away that she would like it here. The drive up to Pennsylvania was a long day in the car, but as Backus described, “We got out at the Pennsylvania line on the Pennsylvania turnpike and she jumped out of the car … and I thought ok this is it, we’re going to see how things go … She got out and she just ran around the parking area and sniffed and she was like ‘this is good.’”
“I don’t think she’s looked back at all. She just loves it here,” he added.
Peanut “loves getting into cars, but she hates driving in cars. She’s always excited when you come and open the door – she jumps in.” We got to accompany Backus and Peanut on a quick walk, which is her preferred mode of transportation. The Presidential Pup eagerly led us down College Lane to her favorite destination: her office in Founders Hall that she shares with President Raymond.
You can find Peanut on Instagram at @peanutprezpup. The Clerk would like to give a special thanks to David Backus for his help in this piece.