By Chris Gay, Augusta Chronicle
As much pressure as Georgia football coach Mark Richt has to win this season, Sonny Seiler has an equally difficult task.
He has to pick the next permanent Bulldog mascot, Uga IX.
Seiler, owner of the long line of English bulldogs that have served as the official mascot of the University of Georgia since 1956, is trying to find the next sideline icon. Doing so isn‚Äôt as easy it seems, he said.
‚ÄúYou want one when he‚Äôs standing alone you go, ‚ÄòGee, that‚Äôs a good-looking, strong dog‚Äô and not one who just flops down,‚Äù Seiler said. ‚ÄúIt takes a lot of luck.‚Äù
Seiler was honored Thursday night at the Augusta Bulldog Club Season Kickoff at Julian Smith Casino. He joins a long line of Georgia legends honored at the annual preseason banquet.
‚ÄúThey called me and said they were going to do something for us and I said, ‚ÄòGosh, that‚Äôs nice,‚Äô‚Äù Seiler said. ‚ÄúAugusta is one of my favorite places. I come here every spring.‚Äù
The 78-year-old Seiler is a former president of the State Bar of Georgia. He still works every day as a senior partner at Bouhan, Williams & Levy LLP in Savannah, Ga. Seiler also has appeared in three movies filmed in Savannah. Yet, he‚Äôs most known for his affiliation with his alma mater in Athens, Ga.
All eyes are on Seiler to pick a permanent mascot. Uga VII‚Äôs half-brother, Russ, who served in 2009 as an interim mascot for the Georgia Tech game and Independence Bowl, also served seven games last season. He will fill in again this season until a permanent successor is named.
Seiler has no set timeline for picking Uga IX. In June, the Seilers had a litter of eight puppies sired by one of Uga VI‚Äôs ancestors out of a female removed from the Uga line.
‚ÄúThey were all good-looking, healthy dogs, but no solid white males. And that‚Äôs no great criteria. That‚Äôs just something that has developed over the years,‚Äù Seiler said. ‚ÄúRuss is a great dog now and he certainly isn‚Äôt all white. But there‚Äôs one dog in there that we‚Äôve got our eyes on.‚Äù
Seiler said his family is expecting another litter in about 10 days. Seiler said if his family can settle on a bulldog in the next three or four weeks, they‚Äôll be able to introduce him by the end of the season.
‚ÄúWe don‚Äôt want to bring a dog on that‚Äôs too small for the jersey or the collar or that we can‚Äôt train enough to do what we expect him to do around people and at a game,‚Äù Seiler said. ‚ÄúSo we‚Äôre in no hurry.”