Allow me to introduce you to Uga, pronounced “Ugg-uh,” for the uninitiated.
He’s Georgia’s cute and cuddly live mascot.
He comes from a long line of Ugas before him. In fact, this is actually Uga X, and he’s the grandson of Uga IX.
He is equal parts dog and celebrity and is up there with the likes of Texas A&M’s Reveille and Texas’ Bevo as the more popular live mascots in college sports.
1. The family that breeds Ugas remains unchanged since the mid-1950s.
In 1956, Sonny Seiler was in law school at Georgia. He had just gotten married. A friend of his late wife Cecelia’s gave the couple a white, English bulldog puppy as a wedding present.
”We took him to the Sigma Chi fraternity house before the first home game,” Seiler recalled. “Cecelia had made a shirt for him to wear out of a child’s T-shirt and sewed a ‘G’ on the front made from felt. We took him over there never intending to take him to the game. But after several iced teas -- you know how that goes -- everybody’s just, ‘Let’s take him to the game!’”
Next thing, the dog was asked to be Georgia’s mascot.
The family is unpaid for its service and considers it an honor.
If the random dog on a college football sideline doesn’t tip you off to Uga’s identity, the signature spiked collar should do the trick.
2. Seiler bulldogs weren’t always the live mascots though.
There were other animals that Georgia cycled through before settling on the line of Ugas that runs through today.
Georgia adopted the Bulldog as a mascot name back in the 1920s, although there are disputes as to when exactly that occurred. But for Georgia’s first football game back in the late-1800s, the yet-to-be-named Dawgs actually had a goat on the sideline, per the school’s media guide.
Trilby, a Boston Terrier owned by a student in 1894, became a temporary mascot.
There were plenty of other dogs that took their crack at being Georgia’s main mascot, but from 1944-1955, Butch, Mr. Angel, and Mike were three bulldogs that served.
Throughout the Seiler bulldog years, they’ve had two stand-in bulldogs, when things have happened to the main Ugas. Otto served in 1986 for four games, and Russ bridged the gap between Ugas VII and VIII and Ugas IX and X. Our UGA blog wanted Russ to be named mascot back in 2012, based on the team’s on-field record
He’s done his duty, being pulled off the line, and put back on it, time and time again. If we were to write a book after a great 2012 season, Russ would truly be the unsung hero. What happened to the past two Uga’s was truly tragic and horrible, however, Russ shouldn’t have to be the one hung out to dry because of it.
3. Uga’s house might be nicer than yours, relatively.
It’s a permanent air-conditioned doghouse near the cheerleaders. When it rains at Georgia home games, Uga’s handler, Charles Seiler, jumps in the doghouse with him.
“I actually get in that house all the time when it’s raining,” Seiler chuckled. “I’ve been doing it since I was a kid, so it’s no big deal for me except that we just had that house renovated and when they renovated it, they raised the floor about 5 inches so that I don’t fit very well in it. So it’s sad to say that I don’t fit in it anymore.”
If Uga’s got the space for both he and a full-grown human friend, it makes a New York apartment feel even more cramped.
4. Uga travels in style too.
Yet he mastered the four-hour 45-minute flight, falling asleep easily like a seasoned flier, even helping himself to a pillow that had tumbled off an empty seat. The only slight inconvenience came in his seat/floor assignment — and really, who hasn’t reeled at such — because he snoozed at a bulkhead, near the plumbing for a restroom, which woke him every time somebody flushed.
5. Uga X will be buried inside Sanford stadium.
Just like the other Ugas before him. They’re all in marble vaults on the south side of the stadium and have epitaphs inscribed in bronze. There’s also a bulldog statue in one of Sanford’s Stadium’s end zones.
Not bad for a dog.
6. Uga’s been on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
That’s one more cover than I’ve got.
7. Don’t go near him, if you’re from Auburn.
Uga V once took a chomp at former Auburn player Robert Baker. It is an incredible piece of video.
It is poetic that this happened against a rival.
So now you know the Ugas.
Uga X is of noble birth and lineage. Don’t cross him, because he’s got some feistiness in his blood. There has been only one Uga to preside over a national championship.
Uga X could be No. 2.