Three-legged charmer attends university

daap_2Madeleine Bransford, left, a student at UC’s prestigious College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP), with her professor Margaret Voelker-Ferrier and dog Pun’Kin ponder the intricacies of pattern making. Toting her pint-sized pet to class in her purse, Madeleine’s dog became the darling of the program.

By Barbara L. Morgenstern, publisher

UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI — The irony of her rescued dog’s life sometimes saddens Madeleine Bransford, a recent graduate here.

For it was the ordeal of his leg amputation that won him his freedom from a miserable life in a puppy mill.

“He has such a good life now,” said Ms. Bransford, 23, whose four-pound, six-year-old pet became the darling of the Fashion Design Program at UC’s prestigious College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP) here.

She said Pun’Kin , so named because he was adopted on Halloween. likely was used as a breeding dog until his leg became infected by an imbedded blanket string and his neglectful owner brought him to a veterinary. Ms. Bransford said the veterinarian also suspected that the dog’s bark had been silenced by a pipe jammed down his throat.

Pun’Kin was weak and there was doubt whether he would survive, so the breeders did not want to pay for the amputation and decided to put him down. “Someone that worked at the vets luckily took him in, “she said, eventually leading to his recovery and adoption.

Toting her pint-sized pet to class in her purse, Pun’Kin hung out with adoring DAAP students in fashion design classrooms filled with yards of chiffon, tailoring woolens, hand and machine-made knits, and skeins of cashmere and Alpaca.

“Everyone wants to see him,” she said. “It’s kind of like therapeutic.”

Although Pun’Kin’s tininess is part of his charm, she warns against becoming mesmerized by size when selecting a dog. “Basically, because he’s so small, everyone loves him,” she explained. Pun’Kin is short of 12 inches long, she said.

However, there are down sides. “Being bred so small has health issues, but puppy mills don’t care,” she said.

Ms. Bransford is among the university’s elite DAAP students whose course work includes mandatory cooperative education components where students work full time in the fashion industry on alternating semesters. She found her talent in accessories and surface design and has worked in coop jobs in Kenai, Alaska; Los Angeles; Columbus; and New York City.

Despite the glamour and pull of her career, Ms. Bransford’s aspirations also are influenced by the little dog who captured her heart. “I want to be happy and take care of me and my dog.”

Fashion Design Associate Professor Injoo Kim snuggling with Pun’Kin.
DAAP Fashion Design Professor Emerita Margaret Voelker-Ferrier bonding with Pun’Kin.