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Drake live mascot Griff announces retirement

by CAMERON BOLTON

Griff, the mascot of Drake University, announced his retirement through a campus wide email on Feb. 5. 

Griff will be relieved from his duties on June 30. The reason for his retirement is Griff’s age.

“Griff is seven years old right now, he’ll be eight on May 8,” Erin Bell, Griff’s caretaker and Drake’s associate director of marketing, said. “Bulldogs typically live eight to twelve years; he’s a very healthy, well-bred bulldog, so we anticipate that he will be on the upper end of that. He’s doing great right now. There’s no health issues or anything at this point.”

Erin said she wants to give Griff some time, while he is still healthy, to just relax and enjoy doing nothing at her house, on the couch.

Griff is an example of Drake’s live mascot program, which means having an actual live animal to represent the school. According to Bell, most schools do not have a live mascot program. In the country, there are about fifty schools that do. 

Griff has been the live mascot at Drake University since 2015.

“Different schools run their programs differently, but Griff is really a representation of the entire Drake University,” Bell said. “Not just athletics, not just admissions, but he does everything. So he’s an ambassador, he’s an example of what it means to be a Drake bulldog and he kind of displays all good things about Drake University.”

Bell further explained that Griff’s retirement would consist of enjoying life as a family dog: spending more time at home, going to Snookie’s for an ice cream cone in the summer with the family, going on walks, laying around and doing normal, domestic dog things. 

Bell also hopes to continue Griff’s visits to the special education classroom at Delaware Elementary, where Griff works as a therapy dog.

“I am very sad Griff is retiring. I love English bulldogs. I had one when I was younger,” Kyle Tekautz, a sophomore studying strategic political communications with a concentration in leadership development, said “That’s kind of my reason I came to Drake is because I just love bulldogs so much. Whether it was a good decision to apply to all colleges that have bulldogs or not, I’m here, and I love it so much. And Griff is getting up there in age, so it is time for him to retire when he’s still in his prime, and Erin recognized that.” 

Tekautz works at the University Communications Department and Marketing Office as a marketing intern, a job that has allowed him to get to know Griff.

Griff sent out another email on Feb. 10 announcing that his successor has been found. Starting July 1, Griff II, aka George, will take his place as the new live mascot. The name George comes from George Carpenter, the first president of Drake. 

Bell was the person in charge of finding a successor. According to her, what she looked for in a bulldog was a lot of the same things that Griff is and that Porterhouse, Griff’s predecessor, was. 

It’s first and foremost about personality and disposition, Bell said, a dog that is patient and tolerant, easygoing, social, friendly, etc. are all imperative things for a successful live mascot program.

“I know that the next Griff or the next live animal mascot will be just as have that bulldog spirit,”Tekautz said. “It won’t be Griff, but it will be that bulldog spirit.” 

Griff’s email also contained a video proposing a five-month celebration. Though nothing is set up yet, Bell is looking into different opportunities for good times to have retirement events. 

Bell also anticipates doing a number of events with Griff’s retirement over Drake relays and his birthday.

“I think it’s a really great legacy of positivity, unity, acceptance,” Bell said. “I think those are all things that Griff is leaving behind.”

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