Lilly’s Dawg Blog
The bulldog mascot at the University of Georgia is a named Uga( UG-ə). Some have called the mascot a “Damn Good Dawg,” and I must say that I agree 100%. I have loved that dawg ever since I first laid eyes on him in 1975 in the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s day. There was something about a dog in the lovely red jersey with a big G on it that captured me. So, from then on I have always looked for Uga at home games and away games on TV to see what he is doing. I later found out the story of how the white English bulldog owned by the Seiler family became our mascot also just as fascinating.
The legend of Uga began in 1956 when Sonny Seiler brought a bulldog that was a wedding present to the first game of the season. After the game, head coach Wally Butts asked his permission to begin using the dog as the team’s mascot. Soon after, one of Sonny’s college friends, Billy Young, suggested naming the dog Uga after the abbreviation UGA of the university’s name. The name stuck, and it is known all over the college athletic landscape to this day. Sonny’s wife began to dress the dawg in the sweater with a G sewn on it, and all the fans fell in love with the new mascot. In 1966 Uga I was succeeded by his son Uga II at a ceremony during Homecoming. As the dog came on the field, the crowd started to chant “Damn Good Dog!” Being in the South the dog came out sounding like “dawg,” and that is why all Georgia fans spell it and say it as dawg.
The school is now on mascot Uga number ten, and each dawg has his own story and history. In 1997 Uga V was the first college mascot to ever appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The magazine crowned our Dawgs as the nations No. 1 mascot in college sports. Of course, this was something I knew since 1975, and all Georgia fans have known since the became fans of the team.
Uga III will go down in history as the dawg that backed down a tiger. In 1978 Georgia was at LSU for the first time in 28 years. Coach Vince Dooley was on the field before the game, and he was worried, he usually was, because Georgia was a seven-point underdog that day. LSU also has a live mascot named Mike the 350 pound Bengal tiger. Uga was on his pregame walk when he came upon Mike’s cage. The mighty tiger roared loudly, but Uga stood his ground. Then Mike got even more hostile and got up on his hind legs and roared even loader! Uga III charged the cage and barked at the mighty tiger. Mike sheepishly retreated to the back of his cage with coach Dooley watching it all happen. So, Dooley was inspired and returned to the locker room with his team. He ran in and said “ let’s go men… we’ve got’ em tonight!” Georgia went on to win by a touchdown.
My favorite Uga story, I saw it live, is UGA V defending his turf. In 1996 Georgia was at Auburn to play the “Deep Souths oldest Rivalry” at Jordan-Hare Stadium as underdogs. Auburn was ranked No. 15 in the nation, and the Dawgs had only won three of eight games played on the plains. Well, Auburn scored first on a touchdown pass to Robert Baker in the opening quarter. Old Robert crossed the goal line and waltzed up to Uga showing no respect for the mascot. Well, Uga V felt threatened and lunged at Baker as he drew near. If not for Charles Seiler pulling on the leash Robert may have been in big trouble that day. Georgia went on to win the game in four overtimes 56-49, and Uga V bite at Baker was the “Play of the year” on ESPN. Uga V will forever be known as the “Defender of His turf.”
My favorite Uga tradition is what is known as a “Georgia Baptism” or a “Southern Baptism.” This is simply if Uga licks your face! Yes, a good old sloppy lick from the great dawg brings you into the Georgia Bulldawg family. I was proud to have my kids get a “Georgia Baptism” in 2005. Mia Was 2 and Gunner was still a baby when we attended a home game that year for G Club event for all letterman. All returning letterman got to parade onto the field with their family at halftime of the game. I was on a mission that day to get both kids over to Uga before we had to leave the field. As I approached the dawghouse, the handlers looked like they were going to stop me. However, I pointed to my children, and they knew what was going on. They motioned me over and brought Uga out for the “Baptism” there on the field. This was before we had cameras right there in our pockets, so all I have is a memory and a good story.
There is nothing better than seeing the Georgia Bulldogs play any sport because I love to see the red and black with that beautiful G! What makes the feelings even better is seeing that lovely dawg with that iconic jersey on supporting the teams. He is for sure a “Damn Good Dawg.” I will always take great pride in having been a small, very small, part of an athletic team and that I am and always will be a Georgia Bulldawg.