There’s a new mascot at UConn. Jonathan XIII, a rambunctious, brilliant white, 100 percent pure Siberian Husky made his official debut during the men’s basketball game against Cincinnati March 8.
“We let him stay for a little while, then brought him home,” says Danielle O’Reilly, treasure of Alpha Phi Omega, the co-ed service fraternity that has cared for the UConn mascot since the 1970s.
“We’d been bringing him through Gampel Pavilion previously so he was familiar with it, and we’d had him at basketball practice, but he hadn’t seen that many people before.”
The 14-month-old Jonathan XIII was selected from Northern Manor, a breeder in Pennsylvania. He has been in the Storrs area for about five months, and has been receiving training at Connecticut K-9 and Behavioral Services in Watertown.
Like previous UConn Husky dogs, Jonathan XIII will be hosted by an area family, and either O’Reilly or co-Husky chair Lauren Ide will retrieve him when he’s needed for an event.
The Husky became UConn’s mascot in 1934, after the University’s name changed from Connecticut Agricultural College to Connecticut State College, and athletic teams could no longer be called “Aggies.”
The Alumni Association board of directors, one of whom had found a Husky pup at a Connecticut breeder’s, put the question of a mascot to a student vote, and the students voted overwhelmingly to accept the dog as the new mascot.
A contest to name the mascot led to the tag Jonathan, after Connecticut’s Revolutionary War-era governor, Jonathan Trumbull.