Pet Connection

Go, Dogs!

Meet the canine college mascots who are the pride of their universities.

By Kim Campbell Thornton

Andrews McMeel Syndication

It’s football season, and everywhere you turn there are bulldogs and huskies representing college sports teams. Bulldogs seem to be the clear favorite, serving as mascots for Butler, Georgetown, University of Georgia, Gonzaga, Yale and many more schools, at least 42 altogether.

Yale, credited with being the first university to have a mascot, has been repped by a bulldog since 1889. Because of concerns about breed health, though, the college switched this year from the AKC-registered bulldog to a variety known as the Olde English Bulldogge, thought to have less extreme physical characteristics. Following a long line of dogs named Handsome Dan, the current mascot is named Walter after Yale’s Walter Camp, known as the father of American football.

The husky is another popular canine mascot. Colleges claiming the husky as a symbol include University of Connecticut, University of Southern Maine, Michigan Tech, Northeastern, Northern Illinois University, St. Cloud State University in Minnesota and University of Washington.

Northeastern adopted the husky as its mascot in 1927 in honor of the sled dogs -- Togo and Balto being among the best known -- and their drivers who delivered life-saving diphtheria vaccine to Nome, Alaska, through near-blizzard conditions. While UConn’s Jonathan, named after Jonathan Trumbull, Connecticut’s last colonial and first state governor, is a Siberian husky, the term “husky” doesn’t always refer to that breed. Dubs, the University of Washington mascot, is actually an Alaskan malamute.

But what about other dog breeds? Do they get a shot at being big dog on campus? Here’s a look at some of the lesser known or more unusual canine college mascots.

The saluki, a sleek and speedy sighthound, has been the mascot at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale since 1951. Salukis are believed to be one of the most ancient types of dogs, and that’s how they became SIU’s mascot, says Saluki breeder and all-around dog expert Caroline Coile.

“That area of Southern Illinois is known as Little Egypt,” she says, “so they wanted an Egyptian mascot, hence the saluki, an Egyptian dog. They seem like a great mascot for a track team -- not so much for a football team.”

A bluetick coonhound, Smokey (the 10th of that name), leads the University of Tennessee’s Volunteers onto the football field at home games and howls when they score. The first mascot, Blue Smokey, won his place in 1953 when he barked and howled on hearing his name called as students voted for their favorite dog.

North Carolina State University teams are known as the Wolfpack, but a live wolf as a mascot wasn’t a good option. Instead, they found a dog that resembled a wolf. Tuffy, who goes by the name Wave at home, is a tamaskan, a type of dog first bred in Finland by blending German shepherds, Alaskan malamutes and Siberian huskies.

Goldie the golden retriever does more than promote school spirit for University of Tulsa’s Hurricanes. This “Golden Furricane” is a therapy dog who makes the rounds among stressed students during finals, visits alums at retirement homes and supports local pet adoption events. She’s an athlete herself, competing in dock diving and, of course, being a natural at tail-gating.

A Scottish terrier named -- what else? -- Scotty is the mascot for Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, founded by Scottish robber baron turned philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. When Scotty’s off duty, she goes by Maggie, after Carnegie’s mother, Margaret Morrison Carnegie.

Pint is a Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever who retrieves the kickoff tees at University of California, Davis, football games. In his off-hours, he’s a spokesdog for the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital.

At Texas A&M, Reveille, or Miss Rev, is the ninth rough collie to serve as the school’s mascot and was recently named No. 1 dog mascot in college football by the NCAA.

Go, team!

Q&A

Why is my cat

destructive?

Q: My cat lives to tear up my stuff. She’s always scratching the furniture, eating houseplants and knocking things off shelves. She’s 2 years old and has lots of toys. Help!

A: With their sharp claws and teeth and active curiosity, cats -- especially young ones -- have the potential to be destructive. They exercise paws and claws on prominent pieces of furniture; taste-test plants (and then upchuck the greens); and bat a paw at that knickknack your Aunt Ruby gave you just to see what will happen. Sometimes cats are just being cats, but often a little sleuthing will help you figure out why they behave in destructive ways.

Consider setting up a “cat cam” to see what goes on when you’re not at home. It can help determine what time of day your cat is most active or if something’s going on that triggers her destructive behavior. You may discover that another pet chases or teases her, causing her to jump up where those breakables are, or soothe her injured feelings by scratching the sofa or nibbling on a plant.

She may not find her toys entertaining enough. Offer new ones with brainteaser capabilities. A window perch with a view of squirrels and birds outdoors is another option. Institute three to five minutes of playtime with her a couple of times a day. She’ll enjoy the attention as well as the physical and mental exercise. Place a tall cat tree next to the item she enjoys scratching, and reward her with treats and praise for using it.

A veterinary exam may be in order. Cats who eat plants or lick or chew fabric or carpet may have a gastrointestinal disorder. If she gets a clean bill of health, you may just have to give her time to outgrow her youthful enthusiasm. -- Dr. Marty Becker and Mikkel Becker

Do you have a pet question? Send it to askpetconnection@gmail.com or visit Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker.

THE BUZZ

4 best things

about black cats

--October is Black Cat Awareness Month. What are the best things about black cats? Ebony-colored felines are glamorous and chic, wearing their fur with a sophisticated swish of the tail that makes them stand out from the crowd. They are classics who go with any décor and wardrobe belonging to the people who love them. They add instant style to a Halloween party. Best of all, black cats bring good luck and happiness according to beliefs in England, Scotland and Ireland. A black cat on a Scottish doorstep brings prosperity, and brides in Britain’s Midlands welcome the gift of a black cat, said to bring contentment and good fortune.

--Animal lovers touring Edinburgh Castle in Scotland may run across a small, beautiful garden dedicated to the dogs of regimental officers serving there. The cemetery, which can only be viewed from above, dates to 1840 and is the final resting spot for officers’ pets and regimental mascots. Look for it within the castle walls near Mill’s Mount, where the One O’Clock Gun is fired. Take a minute to remember someone else’s beloved dogs as well as your pets who have passed on.

--Cancer is a common problem in dogs and cats. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, approximately 25 percent of dogs will develop cancer at some point in their lives. That figure rises to nearly 50 percent for dogs older than 10 years. Less is known about the rate of cancer in cats, but certain cancers, including lymphoma, are more common in cats than dogs. Possible signs of cancer are abdominal swelling, bleeding from the mouth or nose, difficulty eating or breathing, wounds that don’t heal, persistent diarrhea or vomiting, sudden weight gain or loss, unexplained swelling, heat, pain or lameness, or a mass or tumor. -- Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker

ABOUT PET CONNECTION

Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet-care experts headed by "The Dr. Oz Show" veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and award-winning journalist Kim Campbell Thornton. They are affiliated with Vetstreet.com and are the authors of many best-selling pet-care books. Joining them is dog trainer and behavior consultant Mikkel Becker. Dr. Becker can be found at Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker or on Twitter at DrMartyBecker. Kim Campbell Thornton is at Facebook.com/KimCampbellThornton and on Twitter at kkcthornton. Mikkel Becker is at Facebook.com/MikkelBecker and on Twitter at MikkelBecker.

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