Sept. 21, 2012
By Stephen Trembley
Lisa Beach and Jessica Harrington contributed to this report
By Stephen Trembley
FRESNO, Calif. - Fresno State's new live mascot, Victor E. Bulldog II, enjoyed a warm welcome from the Red Wave as he made his debut at the Sept. 15 football game.
Victor E. II is filling the paw prints of Victor E. Bulldog, who passed away in August after succumbing to his battle with cancer. The five-month-old male English Bulldog, who is poised to make his own mark, received a roaring standing ovation after the first quarter of Fresno State's 69-14 victory over Colorado.
"Victor E. II is just a great Bulldog," Senior Associate Athletics Director for External Relations Paul Ladwig said. "From the moment I met him, you could just tell that this was one special Bulldog."
Fresno veterinarians, Dr. Kelly Weaver and Dr. Chris Dobbins of PetER, donated Victor E. II to Fresno State.
"When our first Victor E. passed away, we came together as a department and consulted with different areas of campus, including the Alumni Association and other university staff," Ladwig said. "PetER presented us with the perfect solution, where they searched for a strong, healthy puppy that they would donate to us and train over the coming months and years to get Victor E. II ready for all his responsibilities as one of our most visible ambassadors."
Both veterinarians worked directly with Fresno State's previous Victor E. and will help train and monitor Victor E. II to make sure he is healthy and prepared to be the best ambassador for Fresno State.
"We were looking for a dog with personality, resiliency, a drive to please, and one that wanted attention," Dr. Weaver said. "He had me at hello. When we got there and opened the car door to get out, Victor E. II came running straight at us and wasn't going to let anyone else audition."
Dr. Weaver and Dr. Dobbins initially searched locally before finding the eventual Victor E. II out of town, with a little help from an old friend.
"Norman (the given name of the first Victor E. before he was named Fresno State's original live mascot) had a favorite toy - a plush hedgehog," Dr. Weaver said. "So when I went to go meet and temperament test the puppies, I took a variety of toys with me and one of them was a miniature version of Norman's favorite hedgehog. This little guy (Victor E. II) went over to the pile of toys and immediately claimed the little hedgehog as his own. That gave me shivers."
"When we drove down the breeder's driveway, the Jason Mraz' song `I Won't Give Up,' the same one that that we used in Norman's tribute video, started playing on the car radio," Dr. Weaver added. "It made me feel like Norman was helping. In my mind, Norman was telling us we had found the right puppy and didn't need to look any further."
Victor E. II's job is to continue the tradition set forth by his predecessor. He will support the Bulldogs and make his way around town to meet the members of the Red Wave, posing for pictures and enjoying the interaction with people who love Fresno State.
"We're not trying to duplicate anything that Norman did. We're going to let this guy be his own superstar," said Dr. Weaver. "Norman was one of a kind. Victor E. II has huge shoes to fill. This little guy will have to find his own way and make his own name for himself, but all signs indicate he is ready for the challenge and eager to please!"
Victor E. II will be a mainstay on the sidelines and will spend his life in the spotlight, representing Fresno State with pride and that famous Bulldog swagger at all times.
"We're trying to come up with a variety of special things for Victor II to do that are new and different," Dr. Weaver said. "This year is all about getting him used to the environment, but next year he will be the ultimate host entertaining his guests in the endzone."
Not only will Victor E. II attend football games, he will be at basketball, volleyball, softball and baseball games, and will make his way to as many sporting events on campus as possible for such a popular canine. He will also appear at other important University functions as a goodwill ambassador.
"We learned firsthand with the original Victor E Bulldog how important a live mascot is to the community," Dr. Weaver said. "Frankly, it's hard NOT to smile when your day has been `blessed' by a slobbery bulldog kiss."
On a side note, the first player to pet Victor E. Bulldog II was Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr.
"Victor E. II loved the head rubs Derek gave him and seems to have been an effective good luck charm for the team," Dr. Weaver noted. "As best we can tell Victor E. II is secretly taking credit for the Bulldogs' high scoring offense against Colorado!"
"Victor E. is a symbol of how much Bulldog pride there is here in the Valley," said Ladwig
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