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Purebred does not mean perfect

Students should vote on next Reveille from among animals at local shelter

Published: Thursday, October 3, 2002

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 21:07

Texas A&M is so steeped in tradition that Aggies will form groups such as the Unity Project to bring back Bonfire, wear T-shirts that make their opposition to cheerleaders known and work themselves into a frenzy over rumors about the possible loss of a cannon. Yet there is one A&M tradition that has deviated from its origins with nary a protest. It is the University's mascot tradition - Reveille. A 1940 issue of The Battalion described Reveille I as a "black and white non-pedigreed dog." But in 2001, in another Battalion article, collie breeders Dr. Cyndi Bossart, Jim Etron and Nancy McDonald were said to have engineered a "perfect" collie that would serve as the current Reveille VII.

The Reveille mascot tradition has strayed too far from its modest beginnings. It has evolved from an injured stray nursed back to health by a group of cadets to a "perfection" that was literally made by scientists. It's time to alter the mascot tradition so it better matches its roots.

This is the best way to accomplish this task: whenever A&M needs a new Reveille, the University should consider dogs from a local animal shelter. A few homeless canines could be selected as finalists and the entire student body could vote on which animal it wants as its mascot.

A&M students voting for a mascot may seem odd, but there is precedence for such an action. According to a 1951 issue of The Texas Aggie, A&M students "voted to acquire a german shepherd for the Aggies' new mascot." The Texas Aggie reported that this was the first action to be taken on the A&M mascot issue after Reveille I died in 1944. According to The Eagle, members from the Mascot Company E-2 select which animal will be the new Reveille, but this decision should belong to all the students of A&M.

Some members of the Aggie faithful may see no reason to replace the pure-bred collies they're used to seeing at football games with what they see as a mangy mutt from the pound. But critics should be reminded that Reveille I was an adopted mutt - described by George D. Comnas at the 1980 Muster as a "non-descript dog ... with some other mongrel blood."

In a letter to J. Wayne Stark dated July 2, 1980, Comnas, class of 1935, details how he found Reveille I and, despite a strict prohibition on cadets owning pets, brought her to Legett hall and nursed her to health with the help of other cadets. Reading the letter, the reader gets a sense of the love and loyalty the cadets had for this "mongrel." This is what the Reveille tradition should be about - not how many stuffed collies the University can sell.

Of course, there are some issues with adopting an animal to become Reveille - such as health. For example, according to The Eagle, E-2 considered taking a dog from an animal shelter to become Reveille V, but instead chose "a dog whose history and parentage were known" due to health concerns.

Craig Serold, who helped choose Reveille VII, told TheĀ Battalion, "Health is important because of the large amount of traveling that Reveille must do each year." This is true, but the most important aspect of any new Reveille -- one that should be considered above all others -- is personality. For example, in a letter to B.W. Robertson, Charles R. Schultz, a University archivist, described the school's official mascot in 1946 as "noise-shy, music-shy and Aggie-shy -- certainly not the desired qualities in the Aggie official mascot."

Meanwhile, an unofficial mascot, Spot, who, according to The Battalion, was a stray dog adopted by the Corps, showed much enthusiasm for Aggie football. In fact, according to The Battalion, during one football practice Spot "became so engrossed ... he fell out of the stands on Kyle Field." Despite the fact that Rusty was an official mascot and Spot was just a stray adopted by the Corps, the latter was a better mascot. Indeed, Spot proves that personality is more important than pedigree.

Besides, with regard to the health issue, it's not as if A&M hasn't had health problems with the Reveilles that were collies. For example, according to The Battalion, Reveille VI suffered from epilepsy and had to be put on seizure medication. A&M's former mascot once suffered from epileptic seizures so violent that she had to miss a Midnight Yell Practice.

According to The Battalion, all Reveilles since Reveille III have been registered collies. Of these five mascots, only two have come from Texas. According to various reports in The Eagle and The Battalion, Reveille III came from Anchorage, Ala. Reveille VII was engineered in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. and Reveille IV was born in Kansas. A mascot representing A&M should come from Texas. Adopting a lonely pup from the local animal shelter would ensure this. It would also be the best way to rectify the misguided Reveille tradition and return it to its roots.

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