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Real Husky Dog Makes Return To Sidelines

Published: Thursday, March 13, 2008

Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013 17:08

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Jonathan XIII, the new UConn mascot.

Jonathon XIII, an all-white, male Siberian husky who is the newest UConn mascot, made his public debut at Sunday's men's basketball game between UConn and Cincinnati. The following is a reprinting of a Jan. 26, 2007 article about the search for the new dog.

Real Husky Dog To Make Return To Sidelines

UConn hasn't had an actual husky dog to act as its mascot since Jonathan XII was retired in Spring 2005. But if the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity has its way, Jonathan XIII will be roaming the sidelines of UConn games this fall, according to Tammy Brody, the co-chair of APO's Husky Committee.

Jonathan XII was retired because "the mascot lifestyle wasn't for him," said Brody, an 8th-semester special education major. Brody added that although Jonathan XII was a great dog, he was simply unable to deal well with the large crowds he encountered on the job.

APO has been in charge of the Jonathans since 1970 and has spent the last two years revamping the policy that dictates how the dog is cared for, in anticipation of Jonathan XIII coming to UConn. The policy has been changed to ensure that any potential host family for Jonathan will be extremely involved in his handling, and requires that a professional handler be brought in to work with Jonathan full-time.

The changes may have caused a delay in obtaining a new Jonathan, but Brody is confident they will help create a better experience for the dog, and as a result, allow the next Jonathan to stay working much longer than some of his predecessors.

Jonathan XII was the only mascot from 2001-2005, according to the UConn Web site.

"I want the next mascot to be here for 10 years, not just two or three," Brody said. "I don't see the wait as being that long, and we want to make sure we have a good host family."

Huskies typically breed in the spring and fall, and Brody hopes that a new Jonathan can be picked this spring and introduced during homecoming in the fall. However, she "can't guarantee it."

Before a husky can be selected, three things must be in place - a host family, a vet to care for the dog and a pet store to sponsor Jonathan's equipment, food and other various needs. A vet has been located, but APO is still searching for a pet store and family, according to Brody.

Selecting a husky isn't a simple process either. Jonathan needs to be an all-white, male Siberian Husky, and any potential dog must have a good temperament and be able to cope with large crowds. The requirements regarding Jonathan's temperament are a particular concern because it can be hard to find a Siberian Husky that will be well- behaved under the conditions Jonathan will often find himself in, according to Brody,

"I think it will be really good for school spirit to have a real dog," said D.J. Manfre, a 4th-semester natural resources major. "Plus, it will be really fun to have a real husky around."

UConn has used Jonathan the Husky as a mascot since 1935, and all except the first Jonathan have been all-white Siberian Huskies. In 1970, during the height of the Vietnam War, the UConn student government voted to sell Jonathan because it was believed he represented the establishment. However, a student petition saved the mascot and the APO fraternity has cared for each Jonathan ever since.

Also, despite the fact that the next Husky will be Jonathan XIII, it will be only the 12th dog to serve as UConn's mascot. In 1991, Jonathan IX was renamed Jonathan X. This was because of a belief that there were two Jonathan VIII's, but there has been no documented evidence to support the claim, according to UConn's Web site.

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