For all you sports enthusiasts, now is one of the most exciting times of the year. The March Madness Tournament is underway to determine college basketball’s National Champion. The Spartans, Tar Heels, Blue Devils, Buckeyes, and many more are showing up to “The Big Dance”, fighting for the right to be called the best of the best. So being an avid sports fanatic and dog lover, I’ve dedicated this article to the loyal canine sports mascots of Division 1 college basketball.
Best Loved Breeds of Dog Mascots
You would think that there would be some diversity in the selection of breeds used as dog mascots, but apparently there is not much. The overwhelming leader is the Bulldog, which is the mascot of:
Butler University (Indianapolis, Indiana) – In 1919, a week before the big game against the rival Franklin “Baptists”, the school newspaper featured a cartoon by George Dickson that was inspired by a Butler fraternity’s mascot bulldog. The cartoon showed a bulldog labeled “Butler” taking a bite out of the behind of John the “Baptist” in reference to the upcoming game against Franklin. Though Butler lost the game, the bulldog mascot stuck.
Drake University (Des Moines, Iowa) – “Spike the Bulldog” has been the Drake mascot since the 1930’s. The university just recently held a Beautiful Bulldog Contest to choose their official live bulldog mascot for the school.
California State University, Fresno (Fresno, CA) – Back in 1921, student body president, Warren Moody and his friends would always be greeted in front of the school’s main campus building by a white bulldog. The dog eventually adopted the group and inspired Warren to make him the official school mascot.
Gardner-Webb University (Boiling Springs, North Carolina) – Their mascot is the Runnin’ Bulldogs and is currently represented by Mac T and Lulu Bulldog.
Georgetown University (Washington, DC) – While their official team name is the Georgetown Hoyas, they depict a bulldog named Jack as their team logo. Numerous dog breeds have been used to symbolize the Hoyas such as bull terriers and even a Great Dane, but eventually the bulldog was chosen because of their “tenacity”.
University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia) – “Uga” (currently on Uga VIII) is the name of the live bulldog mascot of the school. Uga has always come from the same line of English Bulldogs from breeder, Frank Seiler. The dogs live with the Seiler family in Savannah, GA but Uga always makes sure to attend all home games in Athens and many of the away games as well. Bulldogs are prone to overheating thus; Uga is given an air-conditioned doghouse and sits on bags of ice during home games. He is also a part of elaborate pre-game ceremonies, and adorns a jersey to match the players. Whenever an Uga retires, there is a “passing of the bone” ceremony to transition leadership to an interim mascot.
Gonzaga University (Spokane, Washington) – The Gonzaga Bulldogs, are also known as the “Zags”, feature Spike the Bulldog as their school mascot.
Louisiana Tech University (Ruston, Louisiana) – The story behind the LA Tech bulldog is a touching one. In 1899, five LA Tech students were walking back to their boarding house where upon they met a lonely bulldog on the way. They fed him whatever they had on them and continued on. Upon reaching their destination, they realize that the pup had followed them. The students were given permission to let the dog spend the night in the kitchen. In the middle of the night, a fire broke out. The bulldog ran from room to room pulling the sheets off the students to wake them. All but one of the students was evacuated so the dog ran back in after the missing student. Moments later, the last student ran out safely but the dog never came back out. He was found eventually found inside the burnt building dead from the smoke inhalation and the students honored this heroic dog by making him the school’s mascot.
Mississippi State University (Mississippi State, Mississippi) – Though MSU’s previous mascots were the Aggies followed by the Maroons (after the school’s colors of maroon and white) the Bulldogs have been the school’s official mascot since 1961.
Western Illinois University (Macomb, Illinois) – “The Fighting Leathernecks” honor the legendary Athletic Director and Coach Ray “Rock” Hanson with their team’s mascot, Rocky the Bulldog.
Yale University (New Haven, Connecticut) – “Handsome Dan” has been the school’s mascot since 1889 and is believe to be the first such live college mascot in America. So far there have been 17 dogs to take the title as Handsome Dan.
While definitely the most popular of the mascots, bulldogs are not the only canine mascots to be found. The defending national champions, the University of Connecticut has “Jonathan the Husky”. There are also the Houston Baptist Huskies, the Northeastern University Huskies (represented by Paws the Husky), and the Washington Huskies (represented by Harry the Husky).
Besides bulldogs and huskies, other college sports mascots that depict dogs for mascots include the Southern Illinois Salukis (aka Persian Greyhound), the Siena College Saints (represented by Bernie “Saint” Bernard), the Carnegie Mellon Tartans (represented by “Scotty the Scottie Dog”), and the University at Albany’s Albany Great Danes.
Another team mascot to note is the Texas Aggies from the Texas A&M University. Technically, “aggie” is an abbreviation for an agricultural school. Even still, they have a live Rough Collie named “Reveille” which has been their mascot since 1931. During World War II, Texas A&M contributed many officers and soldiers for the war effort. To thank the school for their efforts, Reveille was given the honorary title of Cadet General by the U.S. Army and even had a military funeral upon her death on January 8th, 1944.
The Future of Dog Mascots
So why aren’t there more dog mascots in sports? Where is all the diversity of dog breeds? I mean – I understand why no one wants to be the “Fighting Dachshunds”. Despite the fact that they ARE hunting dogs, no one wants to be nicknamed “The Weenies”….but where are all the Dobermans, Mastiffs, and Golden Retrievers? Seriously, we already have Golden Bears, Golden Eagles, Golden Flashes, and Golden Gophers…how about a mascot that makes sense? I love the Golden Bears just as much as anyone else, but would just be nice to see another dog mascot in the sporting world.
Well, if I ever decide to open my own university or buy a professional sports franchise and have the chance to rename it, I’ll make sure to keep man’s best friend in mind.
Until next time … happy BARFing!
Evan Price is a Raw Diet Educator for BARF World Inc. He is a true dog lover at heart with a particular interest in Daschunds. Evan is also an avid sports enthusiast and bridge player. For more articles like these and to learn more about the benefits of raw food for your pets, sign up for The Intelligent Pet weekly e-zine at www.barfworld.com.