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.
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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.