After nine years of serving the Yale athletic community as its mascot, Handsome Dan XVII died on Aug. 11, most likely due to a heart attack. The English bulldog, whose house name was Sherman, was nine years old.
Chris Getman ’64, who served as Sherman’s caretaker since the bulldog became Handsome Dan at the age of six months, said in a Yale athletics press release that the dog had experienced seizures earlier this summer but was taking medication and otherwise doing well.
During his nine years as the face of Yale athletics, Sherman met multiple prominent figures, including former presidents George H. W. Bush ’68 and Jimmy Carter. In an interview with the News earlier this year, Getman described Sherman as a “dog of the community,” as he participated in a variety of events throughout the campus on a daily basis, and attended many Yale football and baseball games alongside Getman.
“He loved his job, was very enthusiastic and brought joy to a lot of people,” Getman said in a statement.
The Yale athletic department has established a committee responsible for replacing Sherman. Director of Sports Publicity Steve Conn said the committee was established to “process the situation” and make a recommendation to Tom Beckett, Yale’s director of athletics, for Sherman’s successor.
Conn would not comment on the timeline for the committee or the names of its members, adding that the only information that would be made public is that the department is currently working to replace the mascot.
“It’s not something that can be done overnight,” Conn said. “A good plan for succession requires exploring many options.”
Getman, who has been the Yale mascot’s caretaker for all but two years since 1983, said he believes there will be a new owner for Handsome Dan XVIII, but that the selection process is still “very much a work in progress.”
Though he did not have specific details on the selection process at this time, Getman said the choice of a new bulldog usually involves word of mouth and referrals.
Handsome Dan I, chosen in 1889, was the first live mascot at an academic institution in the United States.