Lucye Rafferty/The Hoya

As the dog days of summer come to an end, there will be no loss of puppy love in Georgetown – especially not after the arrival of a new Jack, the campus bulldog and Hoya mascot.

Having a real dog to represent the university is a tradition that dates back to World War I, though there were lapses during the suspension of the football program from 1951 to 1962 and a large portion of the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s. With the help of the Class of 1999, former English professor and interim university chaplain the Rev. Scott Pilarz, S.J. was able to restore a live mascot to the Georgetown community in Feb. 1999, when a nine-week-old pup was brought to campus for Senior Parents Weekend.

But late last semester, Pilarz received an invitation to serve as president of the University of Scranton. His bond with Jack was too strong for him to leave the four-year old bulldog behind, so both Pilarz and his faithful companion made their way to northeastern Pennsylvania to take up a new residence.

Thus Georgetown was left without a mascot.

The Rev. Christopher Steck, S.J., however, had already seized the opportunity to find the university a new pet.

“I had dogs growing up. And I don’t think many Jesuits are as much dog-lovers as I am,” he jokes.

Steck took the initiative, sending out 30 to 40 e-mails and calling 12 different representatives of the Bulldog Club of America, looking for the perfect replacement for the old Jack. He contacted breeders as far as Ohio, Texas, Georgia and Florida.

“I was looking for a bulldog with a good bloodline who could socialize, who looked somewhat like the previous bulldog and who was going to be a puppy in July and August,” he says.

After finding many suitable replacements, he narrowed the pool down to two different puppies, one from Savannah and another from . New Jersey. Sunny Seiler, the caretaker of Uga, the official mascot of the University of Georgia, had several good prospects for the new Jack. But Anne Hubbard, a nationally reputable breeder in Freehold, N.J., had one puppy that fit Steck’s description – and then some.

Hubbard has bred some 125 Bulldog Champions, a distinction that is given to animals earning the highest number of points at shows. Though her success was respectable, no numbers mattered to Steck when he learned this: Hubbard also bred the mascot that was here during the Ewing era. “This Jack is a distant relative of his, and that cinched it,” Steck says.

In his short time on campus, the new Jack has learned much, but still has much to learn. He has completed two weeks of a seven-week obedience school program. In addition, Jack visits a kennel twice weekly to learn from other dogs.

Georgetown’s favorite bulldog, who will be celebrating the four month anniversary of his birth on Wednesday, responds to his name only occasionally and has a vague knowledge of what and what not to chew. “But he can’t go quite the whole night yet,” Steck laughs, as vigilance and nightly bathroom runs have prevented his apartment on the fourth floor of Reynolds from being soiled.

Though Jack has been strolling around campus as of late, he has not made any official public appearances since the NSO Pep Rally Tuesday night. But his first hoorah was indeed an enjoyable one, Steck recalls.

“He ran up onto the stage. And he kept running up to the cheerleaders beforehand,” Steck jokes. “He loves motion.”

Contrary to his apparent wild side, Jack and his bulldog brethren tend to be, on average, fairly subdued in comparison to other canines.

“Bulldogs are more independent than other dogs, not like Labradors or golden retrievers,” Steck says. “[Jack] likes to be petted, but he doesn’t like to soak up people’s attention. He needs a lot of down time. He likes lounging around.”

Steck still needs assistance with the bulldog, who presently accompanies him everywhere – including on trips to his office in the Theology department. He would like students to volunteer to help him with feeding, walking and training.

“I learned a lot by seeing Scott [Pilarz] taking care of the old Jack,” Steck says. “But I’m glad students are back. It’ll relieve me of some of the burden of taking care of the dog.”

With the life expectancy of bulldogs ranging from eight to 10 years, no one should expect Jack to be going anywhere. Steck anticipates living with the most famous dog in Georgetown for some time to come.

“No,” he laughs, after being asked whether he, like Pilarz before him, will head for the hills any time soon.

The friendship developing between Steck and Jack – who sit together on the floor every morning waking up – is one that will last more than 10 years. As any dog-lover will tell you, the bond will last a lifetime.

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