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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Damn good dog: Uga VI has passed away

The first time I saw Uga VI was a bit of a shock. It came during me and Lisa's first year of dating (she was a grad student at University of Georgia) and after months of seeing the graven image of this stalwart bulldog idolized all over Athens, I thought Uga VI would be... bigger! But if there was any letdown it quickly passed after I saw Uga VI in person: this lovable mascot, along with owner Sonny Seiler (yup the one made famous by Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil if he wasn't famous enough already) heading up the University of Georgia homecoming parade in the fall of 2001. You'da thought he had just won Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club, with all the adulation he was getting.

That's when I realized something: that in a world gone mad, just a few weeks after 9/11, Uga - whichever dog is the one that holds the honor - was one of the few tangible symbols of something good and pure still left from what we like to think is the America that once was, and could still be again.

Uga VI had come to the throne after the retirement of his daddy Uga V in 1999. Seiler had hoped that Uga VI would be the mascot for one more season, before enjoying retiring after the tenure with the most wins for Georgia.

Uga VI died of heart failure on Friday night at the home of Sonny Seiler. He was just one month shy of his tenth birthday.

Per tradition, Uga VI will be buried next week in the southwest corner of Sanford Stadium, in the marble mausoleum devoted to all the bulldogs that have borne the Uga title. A successor will be named at a later date but there's little doubt that he will be one that Uga VI sired himself.

Farewell Uga VI. Like those before him, a damn good dog.