Professor going to dogs serves life well

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Posted Sun, Nov 22, 2015

Canine Companionship Newly retired MSU Denver professor Oneida Meranto, Ph.D., sits with her dogs Danny and Frida in her charity-shop that opened in July. Photo by Daniel Day

CANINE COMPANIONSHIP: Newly retired MSU Denver professor Oneida Meranto, Ph.D., sits with her dogs Danny and Frida in her charity-shop that opened in July [Photo: Daniel Day]

DENVER, Auraria Campus — This year MSU Denver parted with a long-standing political science professor and social activist. During her tenure, she encountered onslaughts of opposition and met them head-on. She’s relieved to move on and focus on her ventures with animals and art, but what she calls to heart are the memories of students who supported her during her undertakings.

Oneida “Zia” Meranto, Ph.D., recently retired from the Political Science Department at MSU Denver. As a transition into retirement, she cut back her class load to teaching three courses last year.

“It’s a relief, but I’m still sad. I worked for about 25 years at Metro,” she said.

Now Meranto concentrates on her dog wash and grooming business, Muddy Paws Bath House, and her new op shop that sells local artwork, pottery, sculptures and jewelry to give proceeds to Project: Thrive and to The Wild Animal Sanctuary. She has and plans on raising funds for local animal shelters as well.

“What can I say? I’m an animal lover. I have dogs and cats and I love them dearly,” she said.

Bath Time After a walk in the neighborhood, Guillermo Martinez takes his best friend, Daisy, to use the self serve dog wash. Photo by Daniel Day.

BATH TIME: After a walk in the neighborhood, Guillermo Martinez takes his best friend, Daisy, to use the self-serve dog wash. [Photo: Daniel Day]

Visiting the dog wash is like visiting your next-door neighbor because it’s a renovated home on a neighborhood street. There’s a sign in the front that depicts a cartoon dog lounging in a bathtub using a back scrubber and bubble coming from the tub. Clients bring their animals around to the backyard where they can play and familiarize themselves and get comfortable with the place before entering the brushing, shearing and bath stations.

“Getting the dogs into the baths can be a difficult task so you really have to make them comfortable,” Meranto said. “The backyard eases them in.”

The business has served the community since 2006 and recently moved to its new site near 44th and Harlan Street in July 2013. Most clients weren’t deterred by the move and some of them have continued to return since the company first opened.

“I’ve been coming to Muddy Paws for seven years since when it was on 38th Avenue,” Vicki Chesser said.

Chesser visits the dog wash about once a month to wash and groom her two Bernese mountain dogs. The facility is convenient for her because of the elevated tubs and ramps.

“I love it. I really like what Zia is doing with the new art shop and donating to the nonprofits,” she said. Coincidently, Chesser has recently retired as well after 12 years as an Auraria Police Department dispatcher in December last year.

Bubbles of Fun Daisy gets a wash from her best buddy.  Photo by Daniel Day

BUBBLES OF FUN: Daisy gets a wash from her best buddy. [Photo: Daniel Day]

Until recently, Chesser didn’t know that Meranto was the owner of the dog wash and didn’t realize that they worked on the same campus for all these years. When Meranto opened the dog wash, she didn’t tell anyone on campus about it because she didn’t want to subject the business to harassment from Republican opposition that was consistently engaging her on campus and in the media throughout her teaching career.

Meranto said she was bombarded with banter in the media, professional obstruction from students and Republican organizations and even received death threats a few years before she opened the dog wash. She went on to say Republicans portrayed her as a supporter of Osama bin Laden, a defender of pedophilia, a sexist and a racist.

“Every semester there was something,” she said. “So I started recording my lectures.”

In 2003, Sen.  John Andrews, R-Centennial, lead a hearing to allow students to speak about concerns of political discrimination.

According to a Denver Post article written by Chris Frates, “George Culpepper, a junior at Metropolitan State University of Denver, said he was disturbed after the adviser to the Political Science Association, Oneida Meranto, accused the Auraria College Republicans of working to get her dismissed.”

Culpepper was a student in one of Meranto’s classes. Frates wrote that he withdrew from the class because he felt threatened.

“One student went as far as filing a grievance after the first day of class,” she said.

While occupied with the many issues Meranto was also fighting cancer and her oncologist recommended taking her mind away from the stresses of political science and taking on something new and that’s when she started the dog wash. Now she has been cancer free for nine years.

Meranto believes that her past has contributed to what she does now and that if it weren’t for the cancer and campus Republicans, she wouldn’t have the shop.

“I’m very grateful that I have this in my life. Now that I’m retired, I still feel like I have a purpose and helping animals is what I think I’m meant to do,” she said. “I think that I’ll just savor this awhile.”

Daniel Day

About Daniel Day

Daniel Day is a journalist currently studying at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

View all posts by Daniel Day

One Response to “Professor going to dogs serves life well”

  1. John Freeman Says:

    I had the misfortune of having to have Meranto for two classes while ay MSCD in the early 2000’s. Here is how Meranto is:
    – She is a communist. She advocated for the FARC and even had a poster outside of her office door.
    – She is a sexist. She was part of an organization that ‘bestowed’ cash gifts to only female students.
    – She hates the United States. She could never find anything good in our nation – her lens was nothing but hate, sexism, and racism towards white people.

    Thank God she is no longert a professor spreading her anti-American hatred of white people.

    Reply

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