Aug. 26 is officially National Dog Day, but it’s national dog day year-round across the United States — including on college football Saturdays.
Ten Div. I football programs are nicknamed the Bulldogs, and this doesn’t include teams like James Madison (Dukes) or Georgetown (Hoyas), which adopted Bulldogs as their mascots. Another four Div. I programs go by the name Huskies.
This doesn’t count the dozens of Div. II, Div. III or NAIA programs with dog names or mascots — like D-3 Carnegie Mellon. Nicknamed the Tartans, Carnegie Mellon’s mascot is a Scottish terrier named, appropriately enough,
Scotty Scottie. Scotty Scottie is one of several live dog mascots around all levels of college football. A new such team icon will roam the sidelines of Fresno State games this fall. Victor E. III was introduced as the university’s new bulldog representative this summer.
— Victor E Bulldog III (@VictorEBulldog) June 10, 2015
The popularity of dog-themed nicknames and mascots directly represents our cultural love of canines. I can speak to it directly, having grown up in a house always occupied with rescued dogs of various mixed breeds, and now owning two dogs of my own.
We love dogs because of their fierce loyalty. In that sense, a dog mascot represents football fans’ own loyalty to their chosen team and university. Dogs also bring us comfort at times when we desperately need it. National Dog Day just happens to fall on a day the country mourn another senseless tragedy.
The happiness we get from dogs mirrors the escapist pleasure college football provides.
Now, animal nicknames are not unique — there are scores of Hawks, a variety of Eagles, Bears, and oh-so many Wildcats.
But these are all wild animals. No one keeps a live gator or tiger — unless you’re a crazy person in Florida or Mike Tyson.
Dog mascots are the only domesticated animal we choose to represent our football teams. You won’t tune into an SEC game to see the Georgia Bulldogs square off with the LSU Calicos, for example.
That’s because, while domestic, dogs still exhibit the tenacity and aggressiveness animal mascots are meant to represent.
Just ask former Auburn wide receiver Robert Baker, who was on the business end of college football’s most famous on-field dog mishap.
Live-animal mascots obviously require attentive care and training to avoid such potentially calamitous moments. The University of Washington took a behind the scenes look with the handler of its live husky, Dubs.
While millions own dogs, a special brand of dog-lover takes on such responsibility. It’s only fitting one such intrepid soul comes from an athletic department nicknamed the Bulldogs.
Louisiana Tech assistant athletic director Amber Burdge works to find adoptive homes for in need. Tech associate athletics communication director Patrick Walsh wrote a terrific feature on Burdge’s work with canines this summer.
Of course, what would this shout-out be without an image of Louisiana Tech’s own mascot, Tech XXI:
— LA Tech Football (@LATechFB) August 26, 2015
Happy National Dog Day.