Damn Good Dawg
College football is a sport defined by its traditions. Auburn draping Toomer's Corner in toilet paper. Florida State building their sod cemetery, one road win at a time. Clemson fans handing out $2 bills with tiger paws stamped on them. But the University of Georgia's tradition of bestowing a long line of English bulldogs with the school's highest honor is our personal favorite. Not only because this tradition runs through Savannah, but because a $2 bill never made a Superman costume look this good.
There are mascots, and then there is Uga. No matter how many times the Oregon Duck appears on SportsCenter commercials, it’s still just some college kid in a suit.
Que has a few different Halloween costumes to choose from to go trick-or-treating with young Cecil.
You can’t fake Uga. Even the University of Georgia’s other mascot, Hairy Dawg, pays deference to his real-life bulldog inspiration. Since 1956, when Sonny Seiler brought his pet bulldog to UGA’s first home game of the season and caught the eye of Coach Wally Butts, who immediately named the dog their team mascot, subsequent generations of English Bulldogs have represented the school.
And the Seiler family—who makes its home Savannah—has raised them all. Each Uga is descended from that original Uga, with some being retired during a lavish pre-game “passing of the collar” ceremony where the new Uga is introduced to chants of “Damn Good Dog.” And just as the role of Uga has carried along from fathers to sons, so has the role of Uga’s handler, with Charles Seiler taking over his father’s duties and caring for in his Savannah home.
“Dad is a socialite, so he would just let Uga stroll off into the bushes while he struck up conversations and did what Sonny was great at,” says Charles as we entered his home. Charles is a bit more meticulous in his duties. Part handler, part daddy, he keeps a strict control over Uga’s schedule, diet, exercise and media requests.
That’s not to say this latest Uga, who goes by the name Que, doesn’t manage to sneak some unauthorized food here and there. He loves being around the team when they eat, for example, since football players aren’t the tidiest eaters. It tends to be a smorgasbord of dropped food for Que, and he loves rooting around for scraps.
Que took over as Uga in 2015, selected from a set of four finalists for his gentle temperament. This is, after all, a dog that will be subjected to all kinds of selfies with strangers and petting from unfamiliar hands. As an Uga, he needs to be able to take that all in stride, and Que has proven himself to be one Damn Good Dog.
“He’s not as social as most of the others,” Seiler says. “When I take him on his nightly strolls, he is very intentional about getting his walk over and doesn’t stop for other dogs or curious passerby’s that want to talk about UGA or get a photo.”
Que’s tenure came at a point where there had been several Ugas who had passed away rather quickly.
“We had to start having a backup ready in case something happened,” says Charles. His strict attention to Que’s diet and exercise comes from a place of love—as a forced breed, English bulldogs are prone to all kinds of health complications. The result is that Charles has to be as doting on his dog as one might an elderly relative. In fact, as we were setting up for this photo shoot, I noticed an electronic chair lift and asked if that belonged to Que.