Nice lookin' pooch there, huh? If the domestic terrorists at PETA have their way, that'll be the new mascot at the University of Georgia.
Following the untimely passing of Uga VII, PETA has asked the university to stop using live English bulldogs as their mascot, instead requesting the use of "animatronics" (read: robots like at left) or sticking exclusively to their guy-in-a-costume, Hairy Dawg.
For me, tradition is usually a code word for "We're too lazy or cheap to make any sort of change to anything ever," but the animal attractions that add value to a college football ticket are a huge part of the fun for me.
Bevo the steer at Texas.
Ralphie the buffalo at Colorado.
Mike the tiger at LSU.
Spirit the Malamute at Washington.
Seriously, there are many live animal mascots who embody the fun of a college football Saturday (or even a basketball evening, in some cases) the way no costumed dancing schmuck ever could. Check out a few here.
I can't vouch for the way all of these animals are treated, but I'd gather they're handled with some requisite respect, since few of them have been sued out of existence, even in this hyper-litigious Internet age, where everybody's a private dick...except for the ones who are also dicks in public. (Ahem.)
The Ugas, however, are well-known to be treated like royalty in Athens. The university maintains memorials for all the past Ugas. The current ones reside in an air-conditioned doghouse and sit on blocks of ice during games, as bulldogs are prone to heatstroke.
Bulldog breeding has, over the generations, become progressively more difficult thanks to the breed's narrow hips and large heads, which mean females often have to give birth via C-section. I get that. I'm not convinced PETA's meddling just for the sake of publicity, as I suspect they were with the BatManu case over Halloween.
But still, where else are you going to get a picture like the one here, with Uga and Matt Stafford? These dogs, and, I expect, many other animal mascots, have pretty sweet existences. Lots of affection, well-fed, highly cared for...most people don't live this well. Uga's a part of life at UGA, and if the line ever ceased, I certainly hope to God it wouldn't be in favor of a damn robot. Would you replace Ralphie with a robot buffalo?
Actually, a robot buffalo might be sort of cool. Scary, but cool.
RIP Uga VI's Loran's Best (aka Uga VII)
Deceased November 19, 2009