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Top Dogs

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Left to right: Boo X (left) and General II have their own house, modeled after The Citadel’s barracks, and often cruise around campus with assistant athletic director Mike Groshon. Photographs (2) by Leigh Webber

August 13, 2014

Top Dogs
Meet The Citadel’s mascots, Boo X and General II, and their devoted caretaker

written BY Stratton Lawrence

The Holy City has gone to the dogs—in the best ways possible. In Charleston’s August feature, “Dog Days in the Lowcountry,” we introduced readers to some local pups who are loving life in our Fido-friendly town. Among them are Boo X and General II, mascots for The Citadel, which will welcome the class of 2018 this Saturday.

Mike Groshon, The Citadel’s assistant athletic director for facilities and equipment, shared that he wasn’t naturally drawn to bulldogs. After 22 years at his job, when the graduating seniors of 2003 suggested starting an official mascot program as a class gift, Groshon shot down the idea three times before giving in. He had a Boykin spaniel and a Labrador retriever trained to stay put on his golf cart while he rode around campus, and the last thing he wanted was a “bullheaded animal.”

Eleven years later, there are four English bulldogs living at his house on campus. “Talk about winning you over,” Groshon laughs, citing both the unexpected energy and intelligence that he soon discovered bulldogs can possess. “These are the best darn dogs I’ve ever had.”

Dating back to 1908, The Citadel’s mascots historically have been privately owned, mostly by alumni who brought them out to football games. But ever since Groshon’s change of heart in 2003, “General” and “Boo” have belonged to the college and been cared for by Groshon. The original pair retired last year, making way for General II and Boo X (there were eight Boos before the current bulldog program began).

The veteran mascots mentored the puppies throughout last fall’s football season, demonstrating when to bark at the opposing team and how to hold your ground and not run away when the college fires its cannons. When they’re not on the field or out at charity events, the pooches enjoy oversize, air-conditioned doghouse “barracks” and, during summer, regular ice baths.

When school is in session, Groshon lets the duo ride along on his golf cart to greet cadets and visitors with sloppy kisses (no doubt a happy moment in the otherwise stringent daily life of a Citadel knob).

“They’re ambassadors of the school,” he proclaims. “They represent the very best of The Citadel; we don’t want a mean dog to be our mascot; we want a friendly bulldog.”

To see more photos of Boo X and General II and watch a behind-the-scenes video of the photo shoot, click here.

To meet the rest of the pups we featured and find tips on where to hang with your own best friend or adopt a new one, click here.

To share your pooch’s photo and story with us, click here.