The Georgetown community was rocked Wednesday by the unexpected announcement that the school's mascot-in-training, a bulldog named Jack Jr., will no longer be associated with the Hoyas after a 15-month training period.
The school announced the move in a press release, which read in part:
In April of 2012, our community welcomed Jack, Jr. (J.J.) to Georgetown as mascot-in-training. We housed the young puppy while consulting with trainers and experts to ensure that he was adjusting to life on campus.
"Since that time, J.J.’s caretaker and walkers have worked to orient him to campus and train him for mascot duties. We also worked with professional trainers to help J.J. learn about life on a busy college campus. Recognizing that the lifestyle of a mascot is exciting and hectic, involving many people, thousands of screaming fans, and regular appearances at events both on and off-campus, we wanted to ensure that our puppy would be happy with this unique lifestyle.
After 15 months of monitoring and training, in consultation with these experts and the breeder, we determined that returning to a home environment is what is best for J.J."
Georgetown spokeswoman Rachel Pugh told the Washington City Paper that an incident in the fall in which J.J. injured a small child was one of the reasons the school chose to remove him as mascot-in-training. But there was more to the decision.
"It’s really not just about his behavior with children," Pugh said. "It’s about broadly, is the job of a mascot good for J.J., is he happy as a dog?"
The move came as a shock to most people, including J.J.'s caretaker, Georgetown theology professor Christopher Steck. Steck released a statement with his reaction:
"As you may have heard, Georgetown has decided that JJ will not be the next university mascot. The university’s decision is a surprise and disappointment to me. I genuinely believe that JJ would thrive as the next university mascot.
Nonetheless, I admit that I am not at all certain of my judgment on the issue. It is based on an interpretation of JJ’s behavior and mannerism that could be mistaken."
It does not appear that the university discussed the decision with students, either. Neve Schadler, head of the Jack Crew, a group which cares for the bulldog, was as shocked as Steck to hear the news.
“I did not see this coming," Schadler, head of the Jack Crew, told The Hoya. “If a student were to have been consulted, it would have been me.”
Georgetown has had a live bulldog as mascot since 1999, but with J.J.'s departure it is unclear whether that tradition will continue.