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Yesteryear Archives: History of Jonathan - Part 1

Ladies and gentlemen of the alumni audience, we take great pleasure in presenting for your approval a new matriculant at the college, the ingratiating rascal whose big feet, cocked ears, and warm hearted puppy body adorn this page - The College Mascot.

With that, the Connecticut Alumnus announced through its front page in January 1935 that Connecticut State College's first husky mascot had arrived at the campus in Storrs.

The 1934 kidnapping of Rhode Island's ram mascot aroused interest on campus for selecting a mascot for Connecticut. A student poll came up with the husky - and the Alumnus, in the same article that told of the puppy's arrival, announced its "Name the Mascot Contest".

The winning entry, "Jonathan" was announced, sadly, the day before the puppy was buried in Feburary 1935. It had darted in front of an automobile near the home of its handler in North Windham. The following fall, Jonathan II made his debut.

What has not been fully chronicled for some time is the history of all the husky mascots. There have been eleven, although the latest is named Jonathan XII.

There appears to have been a mistaken effort in the early 1990s to account for an uncounted mascot - so Jonathan IX became Jonathan X.

Research has not turned up reference to a missing dog - although the mix up appears to stem from Jonathan VI, who died less than two months after his arrival on campus.

Four of the mascots account for more than 50 years of Jonathan's 67 year history at Connecticut. Jonathans II, IV, VII, and VIII each lived to over 14 years of age. Jonathans III and VIII served in relative obscurity as interest in the University mascot seemed to ebb.

Jonathan V was retired early because he cowered in the presence of large crowds - a distinct liability at football games and other such events. And as the search for a replacement was underway, the first costumed-mascot appeared in 1964.

Through this photo essay, we present a complete, albeit brief, history of Jonathan the Husky.

A year after Jonathan V retired in 1963, the University welcomed his successor. A Connecticut Daily Campus editorial had said students were looking "forward to meeting [Yale] in the fall with a Husky to meet their formidable bulldog," predicting that the two-legged Husky, the costumed mascot known as Homer the Husky, who had begun filling in for the "shell-shocked" Jonathan V in 1963, would soon be out of a job.

But "Homer the Husky" was still on duty in the fall: just two months after being introduced to campus, Jonathan VI died after being hit by a car.

Then in March 1965, Jonathan VII came to campus as a gift from the student body of the University of Alaska, who wanted to repay their UConn counterparts for donations following an earthquake in Alaska.

He almost became the last in the line. In 1970, the Student Senate - the predecessor to today's Undergraduate Student Government - voted to sell the mascot because the dog "represented the establishment", one of the salvos in the ongoing protests against the war in Vietnam.

A student petition saved the day - and the dog, which was turned over to Alpha Phi Omega, the service fraternity, for handling.

At the Homecoming football game in 1977, Jonathan VII was retired and Jonathan VIII introduced. It was during his long tenure, in 1989, that University trustees officially recognized the Husky as UConn's mascot. Jonathan VIII died of cancer in May 1991.

When he arrived in July 1991, the next mascot - an all-white Siberian husky puppy - was named Jonathan IX.

But just before his public debut in the fall, APO announced that he was Jonathan X. At the time, it was said there had been two dogs called Jonathan VIII, but there is no verification in the public record. Jonathan IX (or X) died in 1995, after being hit by a car.

 

Jonathan I - 1934

Jonathan XI arrived on campus in May, 1995, debuting just two weeks after the dedication of the Husky dog statue outside Gampel Pavilion, and a month after the women's team first won the NCAA basketball championship.

As the popularity of UConn has increased, so have requests for appearances by the mascot.

Jonathan XII debuted in fall 2001, and attends athletic and other public events, while Jonathan XI continues to represent the University through an animal-therapy program that helps children and the elderly.

By Mark J. Roy

History of Jonathan - Part Two