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November 20, 2009

A Damn Good Dog Dies

My initial reaction to Uga VII's death is how he was only our mascot for less than two seasons--depressing.  This is especially unusual considering the previous six Ugas all roamed the sidelines for at least seven seasons each, averaging nearly nine.

Uga is likely the most recognizable and famous college mascot in the nation.  I was trying to remember when I, personally, first realized Uga was of importance to the Bulldog Nation and recalled Georgia's Picture Day in the summer of 1984--the only Picture Day I've ever attended.

I remember, at nine-years old, arriving at the practice fields and first getting the autograph of Rusty Gillespie--the Bulldogs' backup kicker and punter.  I then got the autograph of "DAWG!"  Remember him?  He was UGA's non-live mascot, other than Hairy, who was brownish in color, wore a red shirt and black pants, and seemingly disappeared at some point during the mid- to late '80s. 

(Somewhere at my parents' house, there is a photo from that day of my little sister sitting in the lap of the celebrated Andre "Pulpwood" Smith, months before leading the Bulldogs in rushing in 1984 and decades before his legendary game previews.  I'll post the photo if I ever run across it.)

Next, I want the autograph of Georgia's real mascot, I thought.

My mom and I found where Uga was "signing," that is, where his foot was being stamped, and the outrageously long line that awaited his paw print.  Only Coach Dooley's waiting line compared to that of Georgia's Uga IV. 

Only at UGA would fans wait in a line for nearly two hours to get the "autograph" of a dog. 

In 1986, Uga IV was injured jumping off a hotel bed and was sidelined for the rest of the season.  His brother Otto, "The Substitute," filled in for the interim. 

It appears Uga VII will have a replacement but not until the Georgia Tech game a week from this Saturday, meaning there will be no Uga or interim dog for this Saturday's game against Kentucky.

Since my wife recently had a baby, my attendance at Georgia games this season has been at an all-time low.  For most games, I have been fortunate enough to be with my family in front of the TV.

Without fail, for each televised game, my two-year-old son asks about "Ug-dah."  And usually, without fail, Uga VII has soon appeared on our screen. 

I'm not sure what to say to my son when he asks for Ug-dah this Saturday.  It's going to be difficult explaining to a two-year old how his favorite dog (besides our chocolate lab, Herschel) has gone to the big dog house in the sky.  

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