While the Yale community is still mourning the death of its beloved mascot Handsome Dan XV, also known as Louis, who passed away in January 2005, the search for his replacement has officially begun.
The athletic department has started the selection process and is currently accepting applications from Bulldog owners across New England. A selection committee chaired by Chris Getman ’64, caretaker of the last three Handsome Dans, will evaluate the dogs during Spring Fling before crowning Handsome Dan XVI. But while the Athletics Department’s committee undoubtedly will be looking for certain qualities, admirers of the late Handsome Dan XV have their own opinions on what separates the dogs from the pups.
Football player Alex Faherty ’06 said good looks are the most important qualities an aspiring candidate can exhibit.
“He’s gotta be fat,” Faherty said. “He has to really lumber around. That’s why he’s Handsome Dan, not just Dan.”
The Athletics Department, which requires contact information and an essay from the owners of all prospective Handsome Dans, had its own requirements.
“The applicant must be a canine in the bulldog family and have papers to prove it,” according to the official job description. “This pointed-tooth animal must be gregarious and very people-friendly. He or she can not be intimidated by crowds and a loud band. The applicant should expect to be a child magnet and is required for five home football games each fall and selected other contests during the year. Candidates should be athletic enough to climb stairs, walk the sidelines of a game for four quarters and dodge out-of-bounds football players. Speaking on command is preferred but not required. Applicants should not be nervous when handled by strangers and should hate the color red.”
Yale College Council President Andrew Cedar ’06 said the selection process will be as interactive as possible.
“The owners of the dogs will come, we’ll try to include all the students in the whole process,” Cedar said. “They go through a whole bunch of tests; they play with a stuffed tiger, play with little kids. Then they’ll choose a dog. It’ll just be an added fun thing that people should enjoy.”
The Handsome Dan tradition began in 1889 at a time when Princeton had a real tiger cub, according to the Department of Athletics’ Web site. Today Handsome Dan is among the most famous mascots in college sports.
Another Bulldog, former Eli tailback Robert Carr ’05, said doggie demeanor is significant.
“He should be upbeat and playful,” Carr said. “And of course he’s gotta be a bulldog.”
Carr also said Handsome Dan XV played the role exceptionally well and reflected the dignity that comes with being Eli.
“He was a very beautiful dog … very prestigious,” Carr said. “I hated to see him go.”
No matter who is picked to succeed Handsome Dan, he or she will no doubt have big paws to fill.