UNC Asheville’s bulldog mascot, Rocky, has been
known for decades as tenacious, strong and courageous. Now
"rescued" can be added to his traits.
Rocky made his entrance on the campus scene at the Homecoming basketball game.
Rocky I, a rescued
white Victorian Bulldog with black spots, made his debut at
UNC Asheville’s Homecoming basketball game in February and
since then has delighted fans and the UNC Asheville campus
community at many campus events.
The tradition of a live bulldog mascot was dormant for 20
years until a group of students, alumni and staff began the
search for a new mascot last year. The university has had
four live bulldog mascots dating from 1948 to the early
Ed Johnson (class of ’96) and a lecturer in the
Mathematics Department, contacted breeders across the
southeast but couldn’t find the right dog. On a whim, he
started an online search of rescue organizations and in less
that 30 minutes found what seemed to be the perfect match, a
two-year-old rescued bulldog being fostered in Georgia.
Johnson and his wife Alexis, (Class of ’97), drove to
Georgia last November to meet the dog and to determine
whether he could be molded into mascot material.
Immediately, they knew they had found Rocky I. The Johnsons
now are Rocky’s owners, caretakers, trainers and handlers.
"The dog was extremely gregarious and overly friendly.
was clear that he absolutely thrives on attention and would
make a perfect mascot," said Ed Johnson.
Rocky hanging out at home with his adopted canine sibling
The couple soon learned another one of the dog’s traits.
"By the time we arrived back in Asheville, the car, Alexis
and I were completely covered in slobber," laughed Johnson,
who now carries a rocky towel clipped to his belt when
appearing at campus events.
From the beginning, Rocky also has shown an appetite for
math. Johnson briefly left Rocky in his office one afternoon
and when he returned found student papers strewn about the
floor and covered in teeth marks and drool.
"Rocky actually ate some homework," Johnson laughed.
Greeting UNC Asheville students and fans at athletic
events and campus gatherings has made Rocky an instant
celebrity. "I was so excited to meet him, and wasn’t
disappointed," said senior Mary Ann Craver. "Rocky’s energy
is great. He’s very friendly and athletic and brings the
mascot personality to life. Now the UNC Asheville Bulldog
isn’t just a symbol."