Doggone made at UB

A protest is stirring at the University at Buffalo. It’s not about tuition, whales or national defense policy, but a fluffy brown mutt named Chuchu.

For a year, assistant professor Geoffrey Challen brought Chuchu with him to a lab devoted to smartphone research.

Chuchu was a calming influence at times but could also jolt students out of computer fogs.

One time, the 40-pound Chuchu ate a student’s lunch. But more often, he made his head and belly available for rubs.

Challen’s computer science colleagues warned him about UB’s no-dog policy.

But Chuchu accompanied him to campus until two weeks ago, when a complaint prompted an official letter and formal ban.

So far, a “Let-Chuchu-Come-Back!” petition has 354 signatures at

“When I’m stressed out from school, it’s always nice to get away from everything and pet Chuchu,” one signer wrote.

Challen thinks chances are slim UB will change the rule, but he called the cyber petition worth a try.

Lately, Chuchu looks pouty when Challen leaves for work without him.

“He’s a dog,” Challen said. “He’s going to be OK.”

The real problem: Without Chuchu around to bark a helpful announcement, how to get the computer nerds to take off their headphones and open the lab door?

Zoo’s fuzzy little secret

It might have been the best-kept secret in Buffalo.

Staff at the Buffalo Zoo kept the birth of a polar bear under wraps for three months before her debut last week.

Erie County Legislator Lynn Marinelli, who’s on the zoo’s board, recounted how tough it was for board members not to tell anyone after learning of the little white ball of fuzz.

“I was bursting,” Marinelli said. “I didn’t even want to tell my cats.”

Living up to its name

Now in the lineup for Ford Gum of Akron: major league baseball players Matt Kemp and Cole Hamels.

Ford produces Big League Chew, the shredded gum with cartoon ballplayers on its pouches. Now, for a short time, pictures of the two real-life players will appear separately on the pouches.

“We thought this would bring more relevance and excitement to the Big League Chew brand, and my understanding is that both players are big Big League Chew enthusiasts,” said George Stege, Ford’s president.

Pouches with Kemp’s image will contain gum in “Dodger Blue,” while the Hamels version will come in “Phillies Red.” They will be sold in Los Angeles and Philadelphia, and via the Internet for out-of-town fans.

But just like a Kemp home run, when they’re gone, they’re gone.

Beating a dead horse

The home stretch is nowhere in sight in the animal-cruelty trial involving Aurora horse farm owner Beth Lynne Hoskins.

March 18 will mark the third anniversary of the SPCA’s raid on her Morgan horse farm and seizure of 73 horses.

Her nonjury trial in Aurora Town Court that began last May has had its share of adjournments and delays.

Testimony resumed this week following a nearly 100-day lapse.

What’s the next delay going to be?

Not even the prosecutors know.

An unexpected visitor showed up in court on Hoskins’ behalf. Attorney Gregory Davis met in chambers with the prosecutors and Hoskins’ lawyer, Thomas J. Eoannou. And then Davis met with Hoskins separately for about 30 minutes after the court session.

“I’m not sure what that was all about,” prosecutor Michael Drmacich said. Hoskins said Davis was there “for other housekeeping stuff.”

Then, she added, “There’s all kinds of good stuff coming.”

Soon, we’ll be keeping track of which horses die of old age.

By Patrick Lakamp with contributions from Michelle Kearns, Matthew Glynn, Denise Jewell Gee and Karen Robinson.