Editor's Note: Butler University announced today that mascot Blue II died on Saturday, August 31, due to complications from congestive heart failure. He was 9 years old. The following profile of Blue II (left) and his predecessor, Blue I, originally appeared in the December 2005 issue of IM.
Lazy afternoons by the pool. Attentive servants. Comfortable private quarters. Fans. Treats. Such is the retirement of a local starlet. From 2000 to 2004, Butler Blue I, a plump white bulldog, reigned over sporting contests, fundraisers, and parties as the first official mascot of Butler University. She graced calendars and postcards and sat for a dignified portrait with former interim president Gwen Fountain. During the school's annual holiday show, as the choir sang "Blue Christmas," she took the stage triumphantly, sleigh-bound and antler-crowned. She was a born showstopper.
But in the end, Blue I valued family over the limelight, so when her keepers, Kelli Walker and William Farkas, left Butler to move out of state, she followed, sacrificing fame for her devotion to the people who helped her get to the top. "The thing about being a dog in the public eye is she didn't always get to be a dog," says Walker. "I think she's happy to be retired."
A pink-faced male upstart named Butler Blue II has seized the role of mascot and made it his own. Not yet 2 years old, he's a natural: His handler, Michael Kaltenmark, says that when Blue II's ride pulls up to Hinkle Fieldhouse, the exuberant pooch scrambles to take his place before the roaring crowd. While Blue I shied away from admirers, Blue II leaves a friendly trail of white hair and slobber on pant legs across campus.
Blue II is also a hardworking everydog who punches the clock in Butler's administrative offices five days a week (Blue I came in only on Fridays). Despite his humility, he is privy to the highest seats of power: It is said that university president Bobby Fong keeps Milk-Bones in his desk solely for the purpose of holding court with Blue II. "He has an all-access pass," says Kaltenmark. "He even gets to call impromptu meetings with the president."
Working like a dog, indeed.
Photo by Tony Valainis; cover from July 2010 issue.