Devoted dachshund-lover establishes fund to improve the lives of dogs
Relationships with her dachshunds comforted Friedl Summerer throughout her life, from a war-torn childhood to the passing of three husbands, and throughout her golden years in New York City.
Born in Germany in 1918, Friedl Summerer grew up in Austria, where she began life as a budding actress. World War II soon brought her career to a crashing halt, and she narrowly escaped the Holocaust by fleeing to Paris and eventually settling in New York City.
“She had three passions: dogs, children, and public broadcasting,” said Imssy Klebe, a close friend of Summerer. “She could not have children, though she always wanted to. She was extremely devoted to her dogs. All through her life she had dachshunds, which she loved in particular. I walked many evenings with her and her dachshund Sissy. She was particularly close with Sissy.”
Dr. Lewis Berman ’57 served as Sissy’s veterinarian, and Summerer left a generous portion of her estate to Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine, where Berman received his training.
“She knew Cornell conducted research and patient care to help prolong the lives of dogs and wanted to support those efforts,” said Klebe.
Summerer passed on April 16, 2010, leaving a bequest in honor of Sissy for more than $2.2 million to the College, to be used for direct canine care.
The Sissy Summerer Canine Care fund will help the College and the Department of Clinical Sciences support lecturer positions that have direct impact on canine patient care and student training. The fund currently supports Dr. Andi Looney, an anesthesiologist in the Pain Management Service committed to providing care and comfort to canine companions, and Dr. Brian Collins in the Community Practice Service, part of Cornell’s distinctive training program that enables veterinary students to begin practicing their hands-on skills as first-year students.
“This endowment has a very real impact on the delivery of canine patient care, which runs the gamut from routine vaccinations to advanced end-of-life care,” said Dr. Margaret McEntee, chair of the Department of Clinical Sciences. “It will also expand our ability to train future veterinarians by providing significant hands-on experience in the Cornell University Hospital for Animals through the Community Practice Service as a core component of the veterinary curriculum. This is a great opportunity for them, and I think is invaluable for their training as future veterinarians.”