After eight years as top dog, Handsome Dan dies

He did not play in any games for Yale, but Handsome Dan XV served and represented the Bulldogs faithfully for eight years and for that he will be missed.

Handsome Dan XV, also known as Louis the Bulldog, suffered a heart attack on Friday and died at the age of eight. Louis became the official mascot of Yale in October 1996 and since then appeared at various athletic competitions, as well as at Freshman Orientation and Commencement. Louis lived with Chris Getman ’64 and his wife, who have taken care of three generations of Yale bulldogs since 1983.

“Louis was a sweet dog who liked his job and brought a lot of happiness to so many people,” Getman said in a statement from the Athletic Department.

Handsome Dan’s breeder, Bob Hetherington ’55, said the dog was taken to a veterinarian for a leg problem and suffered a heart attack in the holding area.

Louis became the mascot when he was just a puppy. He was named after Louis Linder of Mory’s, former coach Carmen Louis Cozza and the famous New Haven restaurant Louis’ Lunch, and was well-known for the white “Y” shaped design in his fur.

He was also known for being great with his biggest fans: children.

“Louis was great with kids,” Athletic Director Tom Beckett said. “In particular at hockey games and at the Bowl, Louis was always surrounded by admiring children.”

Beckett said the Getman family has done a great job as the caretakers of the official Bulldog.

“Their love and care of Louis throughout the years helped in great measure to expand the legacy of Handsome Dan,” Beckett said. “We are all saddened by the loss of Louis. He was very special.”

Members of the Yale student body echoed Beckett’s sentiments. Robby Legg ’07, a member of the Yale Precision Marching Band, said Louis was hard not to love.

“We all loved him,” Legg said. “We loved petting him and watching him. He’s especially fun because he always had a good time [at football games]. He was a pretty funny animal. He would sit on the sidelines and even sleep sometimes.”

Legg said bulldogs are tough, aggressive and take pleasure in life, which makes the breed the best mascot.

“No other Ivy has a live animal they can bring around,” Legg said. “People love dogs, so it’s hard to beat dogs in terms of mascots.”

Hetherington, who had also contributed the two previous dogs in the line of Handsome Dans, said Louis was a good specimen of the breed.

“He was a nice dog,” Hetherington said. “If he had been shown, he could have finished as a champion.”

Hetherington said one of the reasons he and his wife went into breeding was because they enjoy showing dogs in competitions, but they have not bred bulldogs lately. He said he would be interested in giving another bulldog to Yale, but that it would take nine months before they would have a litter of puppies.

Beckett said no plans had been made yet regarding Handsome Dan XVI.

The Handsome Dan line goes back to 1889 when the original Dan was brought to Yale by Andrew Graves of the class of 1892. The original Dan was famous for barking at Harvard students during football and baseball games.

Children play with Handsome Dan XV, also known as Louis, mascot for Yale and favorite among children at football games and other Yale events. The dog died Friday at the age of eight.
Emmanuelle Massicot
Children play with Handsome Dan XV, also known as Louis, mascot for Yale and favorite among children at football games and other Yale events. The dog died Friday at the age of eight.

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