The Bulldog Nation was shocked and saddened to learn Friday that Uga VIII had died less than a month after the young English bulldog was diagnosed with cancer.
Big Bad Bruce walks across the field after being anointed Uga VIII last October during Georgia’s homecoming game against Vanderbilt. Uga VIII was being treated for lymphoma before his death.
Uga VIII, born Sept. 12, 2009, was not quite 17 months old.
"It’s surprising because he looked so much more fit than the others," said Colleen Murphy, a junior from Maryland. "Poor Uga. I knew he had the disease, but they said he was doing well."
Uga VIII, whose registered name was Big Bad Bruce, assumed his duties as the University of Georgia mascot in October, when UGA President Michael Adams slipped a red collar on the bulldog’s thick neck at the 50-yard-line of Sanford Stadium before Georgia’s homecoming game with Vanderbilt.
His record in football games was 4-2.
The Frank W. "Sonny" Seiler family, owners of the Uga mascots since the 1950s, said that bulldog Russ will once again step in as substitute mascot.
Russ took over the mascot’s sideline duties for the final two games of 2009 and the first six games of 2010 after Uga VII died unexpectedly of a heart attack at the age of 4.
Russ also was the mascot in Georgia’s bowl game on New Year’s Eve, a 10-6 loss to Central Florida.
"I’m sad because this is the third dog we’ve been through for our class," Murphy said. "It’s kind of a morbid record."
Other Bulldog fans were equally melancholy thinking about the quick succession of mascots that UGA has seen in the past few years.
"It’s depressing because we lost Uga VII, then we had Russ and got attached to him," said Josh Daws, a recent UGA graduate. "Then we get VIII, and we don’t have him around that long."
"It kind of makes it hard to get attached to the next one," agreed Daws’ friend, Kacie McKee.
The Seilers learned that Uga VIII had lymphoma in early January, after taking him to see a veterinarian for a gastrointestinal ailment in late December.
Bruce began chemotherapy last month, and doctors at UGA’s small animal hospital were hopeful his life could be prolonged after he responded well to the initial round of treatments.
The standard treatment for lymphoma, a cancer in the lymphatic cells of the immune system, is about five months of weekly chemotherapy, which dogs tolerate better than humans, according to veterinary oncologists.
Lymphoma is a common cancer of people as well as dogs. Dogs can often live for a year or more after diagnosis with treatment, and veterinarians hoped Uga would be able to resume as sideline mascot at Georgia football games this fall.
No funeral service was scheduled as of Friday afternoon, said Claude Felton, UGA associate athletic director.
The final resting place for Ugas is a special mausoleum built into a wall at the southwest corner of Sanford Stadium, where the remains of Uga VIII’s predecessors are interred.
• Staff writer Merritt Melancon contributed to this report.
A LOOK AT THE UGA LINE
Registered name: Hood’s Ole Dan
Record: 53-53-6 (1955-65)
Career highlight: Led UGA to 1959 SEC title, its first in 11 years. Sat on the hood of a Cadillac in the 1960 Orange Bowl parade in Miami.
Epitaph: Damn Good Dog
Registered name: Ole Dan’s Uga
Record: 47-17-3 (1966-72)
Career highlight: Mascot for the underdog SEC champions of 1966 and 1968. Best winning percentage of any Uga (70 percent) until Uga VI.
Epitaph: Not Bad for a Dog
Registered name: Ole Dan’s Uga II
Record: 64-28-2 (1973-80)
Career highlight: Led Bulldogs to 17-10 victory over Notre Dame in the 1981 Sugar Bowl.
Epitaph: How ‘Bout This Dog
Registered name: Uga III’s Magillicuddy
Record: 77-27-4 (1980-89)
Career highlight: Wearing a bow tie and formal collar, honored guest at 1982 Heisman Trophy banquet with Herschel Walker.
Epitaph: The Dog of the Decade
Record: 3-1 (1986)
Career highlight: Filled in while his injured brother, Uga IV, recovered from knee surgery for four games. Named by former coach Vince Dooley as his all-time favorite Uga because he “came off the bench and got the job done.”
Registered name: Uga IV’s Magillicuddy Two
Record: 69-41-1 (1990-99)
Career highlight: Lunged at an Auburn player in quadruple-overtime UGA win in 1997. Named best mascot in the nation, featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1997.
Epitaph: Defender of his Turf
Registered name: Uga V’s Whatchagot Loran?
Record: 87-27 (1999-2007)
Career highlight: The winningest Uga, he led the Bulldogs to SEC championships in 2002 and 2005 and to six bowl game wins.
Epitaph: A Big Dog for A Big Job
Registered name: Loran’s Best
Record: 16-7 (2008-09)
Epitaph: Gone Too Soon
Career: Uga VII’s half-brother filled in after Uga VII died and at the 2010 Liberty Bowl when Uga VIII was ailing.
Record: 4-5 (2009-11)
Registered name: Big Bad Bruce
Career: Introduced Oct. 16 at homecoming game against Vanderbilt.
Record: 4-2 (2010)