Collegiate Mascots are by far the most recognizable and unforgettable stars associated with the college or university they represent. As we complete our month-long focus on American Canine Heroes, we’d like to feature the unsung heroes of “live” dog mascots in American higher education.
As the proverbial leader of the pack, Handsome Dan was the nation’s first living dog mascot when his title was invented in 1889. Yale University chose him due to his ability to tolerate the noise from bands, the fans, and children. Handsome Dan truly paved the way for some of the most iconic mascots. In 2021, over 40 colleges and universities now have bulldogs as their mascot (costumed and/or “live”).
Farm to Pet is proud to be the official treat sponsor of Western Illinois University’s live mascot, Ray. Ray, along with his predecessors, were named after Colonel Ray “Rock” Hanson. Col. Hanson is a hooman American hero. Here is the origin story of how WIU obtained its first “live” mascot, told on WIU’s website:
“Western Illinois' first live mascot made its first appearance on Oct 10, 1959. The English Bulldog, which was purchased by the Student Government Association, was officially named Colonel Rock, following a contest in which more than 200 entries were received. The winning entry was chosen to honor former WIU Coach and Athletics Director, Ray "Rock" Hanson. A highly decorated veteran of World War I and World War II, Col. Hanson was responsible for bringing the Leathernecks nickname and the Marine Corps' traditions to Western Illinois University. Colonel Rock I was cared for by the John Storey family of Macomb.”
Currently, Colonel Rock IV aka "Ray" is the newest addition to the Leatherneck family. Ray’s hooman family includes Joe, Ketra, and Aiden Roselieb. WIU could not ask for better caretakers or handlers of Ray. The Roseliebs work hard to ensure Ray is at all major WIU athletic events, attending local parades and community events, and interacting with children, community members, and athletes. Recently, Ray and Joe surprised many of the incoming freshmen around town to help welcome them to the WIU campus this fall.
Who doesn’t love a surprise puppy visit?
Thank you to Western Illinois University, Joe and Ketra, and Ray for loving Farm to Pet and sharing our treats with your FURiends and family. Thank you for your continued hard work as a service dog in a small community that adores you. If you’d like to support Ray, check out his new website.
Treat you Marvelous Mascots next week.