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  August 27, 2001

Jonathan XII Arrives on Campus

Among the new faces on campus this semester will be a new mascot for the University. Jonathan XII, a Siberian Husky, will make his public debut in September.

The four-month-old Husky pup, born April 16, is in the care of Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed service fraternity that has been responsible for UConn's mascots since the early 1970s.

Chelsea Dowe, an economics major from Windsor, and chair of the fraternity's Husky Committee, has been training the puppy in recent weeks, preparing him for his new role. She says the training has been going extremely well. "At times I wonder who is training whom. He's a natural."

Although Dowe is used to handling show dogs, she went through required training sessions to become a handler for Jonathan.

The new Jonathan will make his formal debut at Memorial Stadium in Storrs, during the Sept. 22 football game against Buffalo, part of the University's annual Family Weekend activities. After the game, the public can meet the puppy on the Student Union Mall.

This Jonathan is the 12th mascot in a line that began in 1934.

The year before, UConn had just had a name change from Connecticut Agricultural College to Connecticut State College. Editors of the student newspaper, The Connecticut Campus, began noting that they could no longer refer to CSC athletes as "Aggies," yet they found "Statesmen" an awkward nickname.

Coupled with the nickname problem was the fact that then-football rival Rhode Island State College (later the University of Rhode Island) had an animal mascot and Connecticut didn't. In the fall of 1934, CSC students kidnapped Rhode Island's Ramses II, and Campus editor Harold Freckleton urged Connecticut students to choose their own mascot.

A student poll resulted in selection of the Husky, reportedly because the winters in Storrs were like that of Canada's Yukon territory.

Many people have thought the Husky was selected because of the sound-alike "UConn" acronym, but the mascot was chosen five years before CSC became the University of Connecticut, and it wasn't until the early 1940s that "UConn" was used.

The first mascot, a black and white Husky, arrived on campus in December 1934. An Alumni Association contest resulted in naming him Jonathan, for Connecticut's Revolutionary War-era governor, Jonathan Trumbull of Lebanon.

The first CSC mascot was cared for in the home of music professor Herbert France - who later wrote the words and music to "UConn Husky", the song familiar to any fan of UConn athletics. But just weeks after arriving on campus and appearances at a few basketball games in Hawley Armory, Jonathan I was struck by an automobile and died.

Jonathan II, an all-white Alaskan Husky, and a cousin of the first mascot, made his debut at a November 1935 pep rally prior to the annual game again Rhode Island. All subsequent Jonathans have had white fur.

Jonathan XII will make his campus debut nearly two years after his predecessor made his last public appearance during Homecoming in October 1999. Jonathan XI's temperament with crowds changed after an older, companion dog passed away. The former mascot continues to charm children, however, by working in an animal therapy program.

Mark J. Roy

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