After nearly five years with the beloved Original Griff, Drake has appointed a new pooch to portray our top dog: Griff II, known on the homefront as George.
George was chosen as Griff’s successor on Nov. 4, 2019 by associate director of marketing and live mascot handler Erin Bell.
“I had met him a few months prior in August and since had been talking a lot with the breeder he came from and others [at Drake], trying to make sure he was the one,” Bell said. “I went to Wisconsin with the approach that if I decided he was right I would just bring him home, and that’s what happened. There was no doubt.”
George’s gregarious personality makes him a perfect fit for mascot life, according to Bell.
“A lot of it is natural–the key is finding the right personality for the job,” Bell said. “That’s why I choose to get a young dog with an established temperament instead of getting a puppy, where we can’t be sure what they’ll become.”
Mascot duties are a full-time job.
“We are on campus more than 40 hours a week,” Bell said. “We do a lot of events and appearances, that kind of thing. Lots of evenings and weekends.”
Original Griff touched the lives of everyone in the Drake community, so naturally many were saddened to hear of his impending retirement when it was announced on Feb. 5, 2020. Nonetheless, the campus has fully embraced George as his successor.
“I love Griff I so much, but I’m glad he was able to retire and just have fun,” Michelle Kofman, a senior majoring in Digital Media Production, said. “I think Griff II brings a great new energy to Drake. Especially during the pandemic, it’s great to have a young, energetic dog roaming the campus. I can’t wait to see him at games once sports can start again.”
Because of canine susceptibility to the COVID-19 pandemic, the outings that give students the opportunity to interact with Griff II were on pause until recently.
“I adjusted the rules on August 26 to allow for petting/physical contact with Griff II,” Bell said. “It is now okay for people to touch him if, and only if, they use hand sanitizer before doing so and they are wearing a mask.”
“Because of COVID, there are not the usual events to attend, so I’m trying to get creative,” Bell said. “I’m trying very hard to keep him out and interacting with students because that’s why we are here.”
Students will be able to catch Griff II making the rounds in his golf cart to welcome students back to campus this week on Sept. 2 and 4.
Griff II will receive his introduction to the city of Des Moines with a grand tour on Sept. 11, complete with stops at all the most significant locations. The event will be chronicled via his official Instagram, @drakeugriff. A “changing of the harness” ceremony is also expected later this fall.
Original Griff set a high bar for his successor, but George is poised to bring his own panache to the role of Griff II–no bones about it.