City Desk

Georgetown Mascot-in-Training Drops Out (Updated)

It looks like there will be one fewer Hoya on Georgetown University's campus next year.

The university confirmed today that Jack Jr. or "J.J.", its canine mascot-in-training, will not be returning to campus in the fall.

"J.J.’s caretaker and walkers have worked to orient him to campus and train him for mascot duties," Georgetown spokeswoman Rachel Pugh says in a statement. "After 15 months of monitoring and training, in consultation with these experts and the breeder, we determined that returning to a home environment is what is best for J.J."

Pugh tells City Desk an incident this fall in which J.J. injured a small child was one of the reasons for the bulldog's early retirement, though not the only one.

"It’s really not just about his behavior with children," Pugh says. "It’s about broadly, is the job of a mascot good for J.J., is he happy as a dog?"

The bulldog came to campus in April 2012 in a lavish ceremony attended by the school's pep band and cheer team. He was welcomed into Georgetown's fold with his own song—"Hey J.J." performed to the tune of "Hey Baby."

A gift from bulldog-breeder Georgetown parents, J.J. joined his mentor, 10-year-old Jack, the previous mascot, who retired last year. Pugh says the university will make plans for a new live mascot.

But J.J.'s departure was news to Christopher Steck, a Georgetown theology professor and the school's mascot caretaker. "The university's decision is a surprise and disappointment to me," Steck says in a statement. "I genuinely believe that J.J. would thrive as the next university mascot."

Jack Sr. and J.J. have Twitter and Facebook feeds, star in YouTube videos and trek to the Verizon Center to support the school's basketball team. Bulldogs named Jack are a Georgetown tradition: The class of 1964 brought one to the school in 1962 and tried to name him "Hoya," but he would only respond to Jack. J.J. is now the sixth bulldog to serve as Georgetown's mascot.

Though Jack Sr. retired his mascot duties, he still lives on campus. Georgetown said in a statement announcing J.J.'s arrival that Jack would teach the young bulldog "what it means to be a Hoya."

Meanwhile, J.J.'s student handlers—dubbed the "Jack Crew"—were taken aback by the dismissal. Sophomore Neve Schadler, who heads the Jack Crew, says there had never been any indication that J.J. wasn't adapting well to the spotlight.

"I never experienced anything when he was overly riled up or upset," she says. "You couldn't have a happier or sweeter dog."

This post has been updated since it was originally published.

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