ATHENS, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – The tradition of the University of Georgia’s live mascot, Uga, began in 1956.
Sonny Seiler, a well-known lawyer in Savannah and an actor in the move Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil was a student that year at UGA. As a wedding present, someone gave him and his wife Cecilia an English Bulldog. they took it to a Georgia football game, and before long, they were taking the dog to every Georgia home game.
Sixty-one years later, that is still the case with Uga X.
Cecilia died in 2014. Sonny’s still living, but the couple’s son Charles is in charge of the dog line now.
41NBC met the Seilers in Athens before the Dawgs’ season opener against Appalachian State.
“People are very curious about the dog,” Sonny says. “A lot of people are very devoted to the dog. They’ll come see him every weekend.”
Game weekends start on Friday when the Seilers load Uga into a red SUV and make the four-hour trip from Savannah to Athens.
“He does notice when I grab his clothes bag,” Charles says. “When I actually grab his jerseys off the closet rod.”
When they get to the University of Georgia Conference Center and Hotel, they don’t just stay in some standard room.
Of course not.
The most beloved dog in Georgia gets a personal suite. Photos on the walls show Ugas from the past.
As soon as we walk in, the fire alarm starts ringing. Uga runs and hides under the bed.
Charles hesitates, wondering if someone might have just pulled the alarm as a prank. Eventually, he decides to evacuate, which means picking up the dog and carrying him down three flights of stairs.
After the all clear, we head back inside. Charles is walking Uga on a leash. Near the hotel entrance, a mother asks if she can snap a photo of her son with Uga. Charles obliges.
“We typically try to pick a docile dog,” he says. “Because he’s got to be around babies and take a lot of pictures. But you just never know how they’re going to be later on.”
A few hours before game time, it is time to get game ready. Charles slides on Uga’s “game” jersey, made from the same material as the players’.
“The dogs have acted differently,” Sonny says. “Some didn’t like it at all and would fight you to put it on. This one doesn’t care. He’d just assumed have it on that have it off.”
“He may at some point develop an attitude where he doesn’t want you to put that jersey on him,” Charles says. “And that’s going to be problematic. But they all have different temperaments and talents. It all depends on how they grow.”
This particular dog, a four-year-old named Que, weighs more than 60 pounds.
“That’s too much,” Sonny says. “We’ve got to get him down, and we will.”
After giving him a pregame meal of dry dog food, the Seilers take Uga across campus to Sanford Stadium. They park their SUV underneath the stands, just outside the Bulldogs’ locker room.
On the field, Uga poses for national television before making his way to his doghouse, equipped with an air conditioning unit and several bags of ice.
“He’ll get in there and sometimes you’ll have to crawl in there and get him out,” Sonny says.
It’s almost time for kickoff–another chapter in this university and family tradition.
“There was a Bulldog before there was me,” Charles says. “My parents started it in ’56, I was born in ’60. I guess when I was a baby there was this big stinky thing running around me all the time, and then I learned to take this off my dad or take this responsibility off my mom, that kind of thing.
“Now, people ask me, ‘Well when y’all are off what do you do?’ Well, I like to watch football and just be a regular person, but I wouldn’t know what to do if I wasn’t doing this. I don’t know how to not do the dog on the weekends, so we’re going to keep doing this until they don’t want us to do it anymore.”
Que assumed his role as Uga X in November 2015.