Story by Lauren Baker
Photo by Luke Nankivell
Porterhouse had more Twitter followers than you. As a dog. With over 3,600 Twitter followers and a strong following on his blog. Porterhouse became a Drake icon after winning Drake University’s Beautiful Bulldog contest in 2009.
A void was left in the heart of the Drake community when the beloved Porterhouse past way on Dec. 29, 2013. He was 8-and-a-half years old.
Porterhouse spent all eight years of his life with parents Erin and Kevin Bell. The Bell family brought Porterhouse into their home when he was 10 weeks old.
“Everyday with that dog was awesome,” Erin said.
Porterhouse entered the annual Beautiful Bulldog Contest four times. He won runner-up twice and Mr. Congeniality once before being crowed Most Beautiful Bulldog on his fourth try in 2009. The Beautiful Bulldog Contest is an annual event held during the Drake Relays. The winner of the contest is crowned most beautiful bulldog and has the privilege of reigning over the Drake Relays as mascot.
The Bells saw so much support for Porterhouse that they continued to bring him to campus events after his reign over the 2009 Drake Relays ended.
In 2010, Porterhouse was asked to be the official live mascot of Drake University.
“He wasn’t the beautiful bulldog ever year, but every year he remained to be such a consistent icon for us,” said Student Body President David Karaz. “He was the foundation of our school spirit.”
Porterhouse was often invited to student activities on campus, Greek Life events and Drake athletic events. Porterhouse once attended a football game, a volleyball match and a basketball game all in one day. One of Porterhouse’s favorite jobs was leading the Drake basketball teams onto the court. He got to chase a basketball across the Knapp Center as his adoring fans cheered.
Porterhouse wasn’t just a sports fan. He was also an activist for other bulldogs. Kevin and Erin Bell are supporters for the Iowa Voters for Companion Animals. This organization is working to change Iowa legislation to better protect dogs living in breading facilities. The number of puppy mills in Iowa has decreased since the start of the Iowa Voters for Companion Animals.
Porterhouse and the Bells also volunteer for the Illinois English Bulldog Rescue. The rescue also serves the state of Iowa. “This organization is nearest and dearest to our hearts,” said Erin Bell. The Bell family fosters dogs for the Illinois English Bulldog Rescue. For the past three years, the Bell Family has had one-to-three foster dogs living with them at a time. They currently have two bulldogs of their own, Magoo and Oreo.
T-shirts designed by 2013 Drake graduate Hannah Pink were sold in memory of Porterhouse. The money from the T-shirts went to the Illinois English Bulldog Rescue. There were 170 shirts sold and $850 raised for the organization.
Drake University will be forever grateful for Porterhouse.
“Porterhouse brought joy to the student body,” Pink said. “His owners are incredibly gracious people to allow their little guy to get smothered in pets and photo opportunities. Seeing him trot around the track at football games or through campus put a smile on anyone’s face. He is an irreplaceable mascot.”