STORY BY LAUREN VELASCO
Drake students, faculty and staff gathered last Thursday morning in Helmick Commons for remarks from President Marty Martin and the highly-anticipated unveiling of Drake’s new live mascot, Griff.
Griff is a three-year-old retired champion show dog that now has the responsibility of attending Drake’s athletic events and representing the Bulldog family.
“This is such a tremendous day for our campus,” Student Body President Kevin Maisto said. “It’s a day that we welcome a canine that embodies everything it means to be a bulldog. It’s a furry face to the university and it’s an ambassador to Des Moines.”
Many still remember Drake’s last live mascot, Porterhouse, as a friendly, vivacious dog. After serving as Drake’s live mascot for five years, Porterhouse passed away in January of 2014.
“Back in 2009, (Porterhouse) united us, and showed us that we are all one family. He had a really big impact on the university and the greater community, and it’s time for Griff to continue that,” said owner and live mascot director Erin Bell .
Athletic Director Sandy Hatfield Clubb spoke on the history of Griff’s name. In the early 1900s, John L. Griffith served as the athletic director, the head football coach and the track coach.
In the first 25 years of Drake’s history, there was many different mascots, but Griffith had two bulldogs that he would bring to practices. They inspired the change to our current mascot.
The live mascot program is funded by donors who support athletics and many events.
President Earl “Marty” Martin reassured students that none of their tuition money went towards finding Griff.
“You’d be happy to hear that this program is fully sponsored by donors and doesn’t come from our operating budget,” Martin said.
Along with donors, Bon-A- Patreat and the Oaks Veterinary Clinic tend to Griff’s every need as well as keep him healthy and ready to represent Drake at athletic events and community activities.
“He’s a retired champion show dog, and his family graciously gave him to us because they were ready to find him a forever home. And there’s no better life than this, with so many people loving him,” Bell said.
When Griff arrived and was escorted out of a car to the stage, the crowd of students and faculty who had been eagerly awaiting the reveal were far from disappointed.
“Griff was just so stately and regal. It seemed like that dog just hopped out of the car and knew,” first-year Jacob McKay said.
First-year-student Craig Nielsen, who has never been at Drake when there was a live mascot, had a positive reaction to Griff’s appearance, as well.
“I had high expectations for the new live mascot, and Griff definitely exceeded those expectations,” Nielsen said.
Many people, including President Martin, feel that the bulldog embodies what every Drake student should be like.
“Bulldogs are tenacious, eager, exceedingly friendly, welcoming to all and they’re willing to go to the extra mile,” President Martin said.
A large crowd stayed after the ceremony to take pictures with Griff and some even had their pictures posted on Griff’s Twitter page.
“This bulldog is going to be called upon to bask in the lime light and most certainly be the subject of countless selfies,” President Martin said.
Griff has already made several appearances on campus, including the Homecoming football game.