The second straight premature death of an Uga mascot, this one after serving just six games, has prompted a lot of discussion both inside and outside the Bulldog Nation about what’s wrong with Sonny Seiler’s proud line of all-white English bulldogs.
As Matt Hinton of Rivals.com put it, “even for a breed with notorious cardiac and respiratory problems and zero tolerance for heat, the Ugas are beginning to resemble the mascot version of the royal hemophiliacs of Europe: Blue-blooded, inbred and increasingly feeble beyond function.”
The two words I’ve heard most from Georgia fans since Uga VIII’s death last week are “fresh blood,” as in a belief that Seiler needs to either abandon the current line that links back in circuitous fashion to the original Uga, give up on restricting the mascot’s job to only pure white bulldogs (one reason substitute Russ isn’t deemed qualified to be the permanent mascot) or at least introduce some hardier stock into the breeding of the line.
So I put the question to JD, a UGA fan who’s also a breeder of English bulldogs: What’s the word on the breeding circuit about the Uga line? Two sickly ones in a row died young. Is it a matter of Sonny needing to freshen the bloodline?
“Definitely,” JD replied. “Sonny has some legitimate health problems in his line. It is not standard for a bulldog to die so young. Average age of a bulldog is 10.”
What would Seiler need to do to strengthen the line and yet still maintain the link to the original Uga?
“He needs to engage in a planned breeding program,” JD said. ” If necessary, buy a quality female or two and then breed to the reigning Uga. That would improve his line (healthwise). Problem is when you have serious health problems, there is an ethical issue on whether you should breed that line any further.”
Some fans have even suggested that UGA look elsewhere than Seiler’s line for a new mascot. One popular suggestion has been the all-white bulldog puppy held up last week by Isaiah Crowell on signing day. JD says the pup, named Magical Munson Woods, was bred by an Athens area fan, Glenn Lyles, with the sire being a dog owned by my high school classmate Mike “Big Dawg” Woods (the ominpresent fan who paints a bulldog on his bald head). The upside of naming that dog as Uga IX would be not only a fresh bloodline, but the school would have a mascot who lived close enough to Athens to attend many more UGA athletic events than the Savannah-based Seiler mascots.
But the chances of the university abandoning an arrangement of more than five decades with a high-profile alum like Seiler seems highly unlikely.
So what can be done? JD believes Seiler “probably has to get off his idea of an unbroken line. … Bring in some new blood from some quality show kennels.”
The situation is complicated, JD said, because many reputable breeders “won’t breed with Sonny because of the quality of his male and the in-line health problems (the first rule of breeding is always breed your female to the best available male) and his restrictive breeding agreement that the owner of the female must sign” about maintaining secrecy and forgoing any marketing rights.
The bottom line, JD says, is that Seiler has to “swallow his pride and accept some major changes.”
What do you think? Do we really need an unbroken line dating back to the original Uga or would it be better for Seiler to start the line over? Should UGA look to another breeder? What would you think of an Uga who wasn’t all-white?
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg