BY CAITLIN CLEMENT
Drake University students show their passion and enthusiasm for Drake’s proud mascot, the bulldog, through their excitement in the days leading up to the annual Beautiful Bulldog Contest to be held on Sunday to kick off Relays week.
Prepare for all the slobber, wrinkles and bulldog love a person can handle because this year’s 39th annual contest has its highest number of bulldogs entered into the lottery with 135 bulldogs. From this pool, 40 contestants and 10 alternatives were chosen to participate in the pageant.
Students already had the opportunity to get to know these wrinkled faces on the contest’s Facebook page showcasing all the bulldogs in the competition. They were told to like their favorites, and some contestants already have their own fan base.
Erin O’Boyle, a sophomore public relations major, expressed her love for all things bulldogs.
“Ever since I got to Drake and met Griff, I fell in love with bulldogs. When I heard that there was a contest with 40 bulldogs in one room, well, let’s just say there were a few tears shed,” O’Boyle said.
She refers to that day as one of the best days of her life. She even claims to have a sixth Griff-tracking sense, knowing just where to find Griff whenever he’s on campus.
O’Boyle is abroad this semester and won’t be able to attend the event in person, but she plans on live streaming the event from Spain.
O’Boyle isn’t the only Drake student who has grown to love bulldogs during her time at Drake. Abby Mertz, another sophomore public relations major, was converted into a bulldog lover since coming to Drake. She sees the contest as a great way to get the Bulldog community together.
“I think it’s awesome that students, faculty and community members get together to celebrate our love for not only bulldogs, but also during Drake Relays,” Mertz said. “It really gives a sense of community to Drake and makes you feel like you’re a part of something special.”
The pageant isn’t normal in regards to judging based on beauty, despite its name. The contest judges each bulldog based on how they best represent Drake’s costumed mascot, the bulldog.
Last year’s winners, Tom and Angela Miller and their bulldog, Prudence, shared how their experience was in the competition.
Angela said when she entered Prudence into the event, it was a fun way to get together with fellow bulldog lovers and didn’t go into it expecting to win anything.
“Never in a million years did we even think for a minute, ‘Well, what if we win.’ We just said, ‘Oh well, this will be fun,’” she said.
During the awards of the other categories, Angela said she even began to give Prudence her own consolation talk saying, “All bulldogs are beautiful,” and that they would go to Snookie’s and get her an ice cream cone after the event.
But Prudence had already won the hearts of the judges and of the Drake community. With her signature wave, she took her place upon her throne as the Relays mascot of 2017.
Miller also gave a piece of advice to the contestants in the competition. She said to remember that it’s not about the costumes but about showing the judges what makes their bulldog’s personality so special.
“Let them see your dog’s personality, and let them see how you and your dog kinda interact together. That’s really what it’s all about,” Miller said.
The Millers, in addition to their advice, gave a special thanks to the Drake community for creating an “amazing” experience this past year after winning the competition.
“We have really just appreciated how they’ve embraced us and embraced Prudence, and they just really made us feel like a part of the Drake family,” Miller said.
Niki Smith, director of the Beautiful Bulldog Contest, laid out what the contest will look like the day of the event.
Smith wrote that judges will have time prior to the contest to meet with each bulldog and talk to their owners. The pageant itself starts at 1 p.m., and each contestant provides a bio for the emcee to read aloud. The bulldogs will walk across the stage at this time, wearing any costumes and performing any tricks they want to show off to the judges.
There are nine categories to be awarded at the event. They include Family Theme, Drake Spirit, Best Dressed, Congeniality, Rescue Dog Recognition, Porterhouse People’s Choice Award, second runner-up, runner-up and Most Beautiful Bulldog.