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Thursday, February 25, 2010

No Rush to Find Next Uga

With spring practice just a week away, plenty of discussion and debate has swirled around finding replacements at quarterback and in the secondary for Georgia, but there's still one other position battle that is sure to be creating headlines well into the summer -- that of Georgia's next mascot.

After Uga VII died suddenly last November, the search began to find his replacement, and the process isn't close to completion just yet, reports Sonny Seiler, the longtime owner of the Uga line of bulldogs.

Seiler said he is waiting on two potential litters sired by Uga VI, who served as the Georgia mascot from 1999 through 2008, but finding a suitable replacement is far from guaranteed.

"When we look at those, if and when they are born -- and we don't know that there's a take on one of them -- and we see a dog that's promising, that has what it takes to be the Georgia mascot and present the presence we look for in these dogs, then we'll set him aside and continue to watch him in hopes of having an (Uga VIII) by the start of the season," Seiler said. "But we're in no rush to do that."

Identifying the next Uga -- and the breeding process involved in doing so -- created a bit of a stir last year when PETA criticized the breeding of British bulldogs, which sometimes involves inbreeding, and suggested Georgia use a mechanical mascot instead of the live bulldog it has employed since 1956.

Seiler said he has never inbred any of his dogs, however, and said the PETA message was more about creating a stir than any genuine concern over the health of the dogs.

"We never have inbred as accused by PETA. We have never done that and never will. We find a suitable female that has absolutely no blood relations to the Uga line," Seiler said. "I know PETA, and they may have a good cause, but that's not really their cause. Their cause is publicity, and if they can dupe (journalists) into writing what they're doing, that's all the want. They just want their names to be in the paper. They're quick to criticize and they don't have their facts straight."

Seiler's careful attention to the Uga line is yet another reason Georgia fans may not learn the identity of the team's next mascot by the time UGA opens its season against Louisiana-Monroe on Sept. 4. Seiler said he'll be cautious to choose the right dog, and he won't allow a dog onto the field until it is old enough to properly fill the role.

"We don't want to start a dog that you can hardly see or that we can't get a fitted shirt on," Seiler said. "I'm afraid that come September, even if we selected a dog in March, he'd be six months old, and it would be debatable if we would use him or even make an announcement at that time."

If a suitable Uga VIII isn't ready by the time Georgia kicks off its season, Seiler said Russ, the 5-year-old stand-in and brother of Uga VII, will continue to fill the void.

Russ presided over Georgia's final two games in 2009 -- both victories -- but Seiler said he won't be considered for the job on a permanent basis, despite the support of many fans that he land the gig.

"There is no chance of Russ being VIII because he is too old, and we don't want to cheat the mascot out of longevity, so we would never pick a dog that old," Seiler said. "But he's served well, he's a good-looking dog, and we would not hesitate to start the season with him if we haven't selected a puppy or we've selected a puppy, but the puppy is not big enough to adequately perform."


Will said...

I'm okay with Russ receiving an extension. I'm not particularly thrilled with the idea of an UGA-less season, but if needs be, we'll make due.

Anonymous said...

Shocked that Sonny would even respond to PETA, no one takes them seriously, they are beneath him (frankly, they are beneath virtually everyone.) Total joke.

I hope whomever made the decision on Uga VII isn't going to have a say in VIII. Talk about a lack of presence, that dawg was the least spunky Uga I can remember.

Anonymous said...

It says a lot about the popularity of Uga that this kind of stuff even gets reported. I doubt there is an media attention over "the next Smokey" or "the next Bevo." Maybe I'm wrong?

SKeslensky said...

I totally agree with the decision to keep Russ if a suitable Uga isn't ready. He's as much our mascot as any of his relatives. Plus with his 2-0 record, he's OK with me.

Joeski said...

I have to totally agree with Mr. Seiler (don't know him well enough to call him by his first name) in his decision not to cheat a dawg of longevity. I think they're really going about this the right way, and wouldn't have any problem with Russ standing in for a few more games, or perhaps an entire season while the pup grows up a bit.

As to PETA, there is little on Earth that I despise more than that organization: they are a bunch of media whores who bastardize and debase what should be a great cause in their efforts to draw attention to themselves and/or abjure some sort of inner guilt. I highly recommend to everyone to watch the Season 2, Episode 1 of Penn & Teller's: Bullshit, which focuses on PETA and their hypocricy.

Cojones said...

Questions for the Barrister from Savannah: Has diet had a lot to do with the demise of our mascots? Do the vets recommend a "dry" diet of cubes (versus a "wet" diet of meat, canned meat and other goodies) to promote longevity? Is the vet school at UGA consulted such that the latest nutrition information is available for our mascot(s)?

My father was an expert on English Pointer breeding including a National Field Trial Champion coming from the kennel. All animals were registered and not for sale to the general public. Their primary purpose was for quail hunting. As Lawyer Seiler has done, great pains were taken for separation of lineage, but diet was another matter. We had upwards to 40 dogs in kennels(separated two to each 50-ft run with separate dog house) with 4-10of the immature dogs running "loose" in a large compound. Feeding was twice a day of separate pans of cooked hard food mixed with a little "cracklins". Whelping mothers had canned salmon,canned horsemeat and goat's milk added to the basic food near their term. The puppies looked like little Swartzeneggers after suckling such rich milk. While they were a sporting breed, I've wondered during the years whether they ran off most of the "bad" cholesterol elements or whether it impacted their longevity. It didn't seem to with field dogs and through the years vets began eschewing fatty diets for animals that paralleled info on human diets. Vets began recommending dry or hard food for nutrition and I have fed my house-raised, inactive mutts accordingly. Minimal life span for 4 mutts has been beyond 15yrs. The last dog exceeded 18yrs. I've had to put them all down for loss of sight, hearing and quality of life, but not for life-ending disease. I'm sure that our Ugas have had the finest nutritional diets, but does hard food constitute the greater portion and do they ever get cholesterol tested while young? A study of young casualties from the Vietnam War long ago demonstrated that fatty deposits were rampant early even in well-conditioned humans. Has this type of research been done with the English Bulldog?