Butler University’s beloved Blue II mascot has passed away. The bulldog was a big man on the Indianapolis campus – and elsewhere. But why a bulldog?
The story goes that Butler University was founded as North Western Christian by Ovid Butler in 1855.
Ovid Butler choose the "Christians" as the school mascot. Sometime after the school had been rename in honor of its founder, Butler was suffering a poor football season in 1919.
As losses mounted, people grew wary of the "Christians" nickname. Before a big game against the rival Franklin "Baptists," the Butler Collegian newspaper was trying to conceive of a way to fire people up when "Shimmy," a bulldog owned by one of the fraternities, wondered into their office.
Shimmy inspired cartoonist George Dickson to draw a bulldog labeled "Butler" taking a bite out of the pants seat of a figure labeled John The Baptist. The caption was: “Bring on That Platter, Salome!”
Butler lost the game 14-0. But the nickname "Bulldogs" stuck.
Eventually, the bulldog was selected as the official mascot of the university. For many years, Butler had unofficial live bulldog mascots that were kept by various fraternities.
In 2000, Butler Blue became the school's first official live mascot. To date, there have been three dogs to carry the name "Blue," the university's primary color.
Butler University’s popular bulldog mascot Blue II died Saturday due to complications from congestive heart failure. Serving as Purdue’s live mascot from 2004-2103, the English bulldog was 9 years old.
Although he retired from live mascot duties on May 20, Blue continued to come to his campus office on a regular basis and post on his various social media profiles.
“Blue really galvanized the pride and tradition of having a live mascot at Butler,” Michael Kaltenmark, Blue’s caretaker, said in a news release. “His daily presence on campus, online, and at everything from athletic events to black tie galas made him a living and breathing fixture of the Butler brand. He was born for the role.”
An American Kennel Club-registered dog, Blue’s scrunchy face became became well known to the nation in 2010 and 2011 when the Butler men’s basketball team played for the NCAA national championship.
“Blue epitomized The Butler Way,” University President James M. Danko said. “Without saying a word, Blue demonstrated perfect loyalty, team spirit, and steadfast pride in representing the University to the world.
“And he always made people smile,” Danko said. “We will miss him very much.”
Blue appeared on the floor of every Butler men’s basketball home game, select away games, and the 2010 and 2011 Final Four games. At the end of the 2012 season, Blue retired and handed off his collar to Blue III, also known as Trip.
“The outpouring of support for Blue in his final days was emotionally overwhelming,” Kaltenmark said. “The circumstances were less than ideal, but the Butler community and our fans really rallied around him. Even in the end, Blue demonstrated great character and the gift to bring us all together. He will forever be remembered as a Butler legend.”
Blue’s handler posted a goodbye message on the bulldog’s blog site:
"True to the prognosis I’ve recently been given, my health is now in serious decline. I sense the end is near as my heart rate is increasing in an effort to capture more precious oxygen. Frankly, it’s hard work and quite exhausting. I wish I felt better, but I’ve known for a while that my best days were behind me.
So while I still have a little stamina left, I thought I would pen one last blog post for Pops to post after I’m gone. I know it’s morbid and sad, but given my hospitalization and near death experience just a few weeks ago, I’m lucky to still be around to do this.
So with that, I say thank you. Over the last nine years, the Butler faithful have not only accepted me as their official mascot, but your pride in me has also made me America’s Dog. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, no dog has lived such a charmed life."