Part one of this two-part series (in the Advance, November 5, 2001) took a brief look at the history of UConn's Husky mascot, covering Jonathans I through V.
A year after Jonathan V retired in 1963, the University welcomed his successor. A Connecticut Daily Campus editorial had said students were looking "forward to meeting [Yale] in the fall with a Husky to meet their formidable bulldog," predicting that the two-legged Husky, the costumed mascot known as Homer the Husky, who had begun filling in for the "shell-shocked" Jonathan V in 1963, would soon be out of a job. But "Homer the Husky" was still on duty in the fall: just two months after being introduced to campus, Jonathan VI died after being hit by a car.
Then in March 1965, Jonathan VII came to campus as a gift from the student body of the University of Alaska, who wanted to repay their UConn counterparts for donations following an earthquake in Alaska. He almost became the last in the line. In 1970, the Student Senate - the predecessor to today's Undergraduate Student Government - voted to sell the mascot because the dog "represented the establishment", one of the salvos in the ongoing protests against the war in Vietnam. A student petition saved the day - and the dog, which was turned over to Alpha Phi Omega, the service fraternity, for handling.
At the Homecoming football game in 1977, Jonathan VII was retired and Jonathan VIII introduced. It was during his long tenure, in 1989, that University trustees officially recognized the Husky as UConn's mascot. Jonathan VIII died of cancer in May 1991.
When he arrived in July 1991, the next mascot - an all-white Siberian husky puppy - was named Jonathan IX. But just before his public debut in the fall, APO announced that he was Jonathan X. At the time, it was said there had been two dogs called Jonathan VIII, but there is no verification in the public record. Jonathan IX (or X) died in 1995, after being struck by an automobile.
Jonathan XI arrived on campus in May, 1995, debuting just two weeks after the dedication of the Husky dog statue outside Gampel Pavilion, and a month after the women's team first won the NCAA basketball championship.
As the popularity of UConn has increased, so have requests for appearances by the mascot. Jonathan XII debuted in fall 2001, and attends athletic and other public events, while Jonathan XI continues to represent the University through an animal-therapy program that helps children and the elderly.
By Mark J. Roy