I am a fan of pro football. I love sitting down on a Sunday with my family, which includes our dog, and watching pro football. I do not enjoy dogs being used as mascots for football (or any other sporting) games. And now something is wrong in the dog pound.
I am glad I am not a Cleveland Browns fan. It is with great sadness that the Browns revealed their new mascot, since they are dubbed “The Dawg Pound,” will be a real live Bullmastiff who will traipse along the sidelines for game days.
Here’s why: America has a love affair with dogs. A dog on the sidelines with the stature and masculine appeal of the Bullmastiff yet cute enough for ladies to swoon about him, means fans are engaged. Engaged fans means ticket sales means what us dog lovers of the highest order fear most: Everyone and their brother rushing out the likes of a wide receiver to get a Bullmastiff of their own.
On her Instagram page, Rachel Nichols, Host of CNN’s Unguarded with Rachel Nichols, revealed this photo on July 14, featuring the Browns’ new canine mascot, aka Swagger:
The NFL and most sporting franchises have a long history with mascots. Franchises that use a dog in their limelight aren’t doing the breed — whether pedigree or mutt — any favors. Bullmastiffs now face:
- Unscrupulous puppy mill mass producing them for greed and profit;
- Excessive numbers of the breed relinquished to shelters when reality sets in;
- Bullmastiffs for sale like cotton candy at the country fair;
Bullmastiffs aren’t wind up dolls who can be turned off when the mood strikes. A dog is for keeps, and a dog is for life. Bullmastiffs are amazing dogs but they also:
- Are prone to heat exhaustion
- Can reach a weight of 130 pounds
- Can develop valvular disorders of the heart
- And read more here about the health of a Bullmastiff
Am I an extremist? Not really. A realist? Definitely, hence the name of this blog.
Think that I’m exaggerating? There won’t just be one dog used, as that too, would be cruel and unusual. Just ask the folks who treasure the Bulldog what’s become of the breed thanks to Ugga.
Ugga is the Bulldog mascot for the University of Georgia’s sporting events, most notably the football team. In his 2011 expose for the New York Times, writer BENOIT DENIZET-LEWIS, exposes the rise, fall, and sadness that is the line of bulldogs who serve to honor the franchise. Eye opening is an understatement: We’re talking tweaking the standard of the Bulldog to the point he is unhealthy, folks.
Ugga is not one dog, but a franchise in and of himself. I wrote a piece about canine mascots years ago when I was a puppy journalist. With time, I’ve matured and I know better. As the saying goes, I now do better.
At a recent event in Virginia, I bumped into the Washington Redskins human mascot. He is a rare breed. Zema Williams, aka Chief Zee, has been donning a head dress and pumping up the fans at Redskins games for 35 years. Our paths crossed at a dog-related event where Chief Zee was posing for pictures and signing autographs. His time as mascot is about to end as well.
In a report for the Washington Post, Mike Wise writes, “He is physically ailing. The commercial world and the team appear to be backing away as the recent fervor over the name controversy continues. His one-man, self-anointed tribe is nearing extinction.”
People don’t want to see a human dressed up as a mascot unless that human is in costume.
Chomps is one of the Cleveland Browns costumed mascots. Chomps will have company on the sidelines this season and that company is man’s best friend. Live and in the flesh and fur.
With every touchdown and every field goal, my heart will break a little more. For every Bullmastiff who will lose because of a dog seen traipsing along the field at Browns games.
Want to score big for the dogs of the world? Keep the costumes flowing and don’t let the dogs out.
QUESTION: What are your thoughts on this topic? Is a live dog a good idea for a football franchise?