Left: “Shimmy” the original mascot as shown in the 1925 Butler Drift yearbook, courtesy of Butler University Libraries; Right: The current mascot, Butler Blue III (Trip) visiting NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C.; courtesy NPR
With the recent passing of Butler Blue II, Butler University’s beloved English Bulldog mascot, I started wondering how long Bulldogs have represented the University…thus our only “then and now” featuring a dog.
According to Wikipedia, “Christians” was the team name when Butler began as North Western Christian University in 1855 at College Avenue and 13th Street. I’ll let you use your imaginations to envision a “Christians” team mascot. It wasn’t until 1919, after Butler had moved to its Irvington campus, that a dog took the honors. Before meeting up with a rival team (the Franklin “Baptists”) during a losing football season, the school newspaper sought a way to re-energize fans when “Shimmy,” a fraternity-owned Bulldog, trotted into the office. This inspired student artist George Dickson to create a cartoon of a bulldog named Butler taking a bite out of John the Baptist. Despite the game loss, the Bulldogs moniker has been used ever since. Shimmy, as seen in the 1925 Butler Drift, looks lean and mean compared to the recent pampered pooches.
Shimmy, followed by a succession of Bulldogs, represented the school and lived in different fraternity houses through the years. A group of staff and students assist with the completion of a doghouse for the Butler Bulldog in this 1934 press photo. The job became much more rewarding in 2000 when Butler Blue became the school’s first official live mascot. So far three dogs named after the school’s main color have been mascots, sharing duties with the costumed human Bulldog recently named “Hink,” presumably in honor of legendary basketball coach Paul “Tony” Hinkle.
- Butler Blue I (September 23, 2000 – ) – Female. Term of service: 2000–2003. One NCAA Sweet 16 appearance (2003) and two Horizon League McCafferty All-Sports Championships (2002, 2003). When her owner moved in 2003, she left the state and now enjoys a private life away from the limelight.
- Butler Blue II (March 27, 2004 – August 31, 2013 ) – Male. Term of service: 2004–2013. Two NCAA National Championship appearances (2010 & 2011), three Sweet 16 appearances (2007, 2010, 2011) and three Horizon League McCafferty All-Sports Championships (2007, 2010, & 2011). Blue became known as “America’s Dog” in 2010 and 2011 when the Butler men’s basketball team played for the NCAA national championship.
- Butler Blue III (“Trip”) (December 23, 2011 – ) – Male. Became Butler’s new mascot on March 9, 2013 immediately before the school’s last home men’s basketball game of the season.
Blue II took to the attention and performed his duties well, appreciating celebrity perks such as a vehicle provided by Don Hinds Ford, free veterinarian care, numerous tours and media interviews, calendar sittings, a ceremonial silver and leather collar, and regular access to the University president who keeps dog treats in a desk drawer. Due to complications from Cushing’s Disease and congestive heart failure, the nine-year-old Blue II retired from duties earlier this year. During a “Changing of the Collar” ceremony in Hinkle Fieldhouse in March he officially handed over his duties to his mentee, Butler Blue III “Trip” (shown above in happier days).
In honor of Blue and all of the Butler mascots past, present, and future, the University will build a Bulldog Memorial east of Hinkle Fieldhouse. It will feature a bronze sculpture of Blue II resting next to a brick and limestone doghouse (which also serves as a final resting place for the beloved pets). Read more about the design here.