It’s true… all dogs do go to heaven. Our hearts go out to the Butler community.
Story via USA Today:
Former Butler men’s basketball coach Brad Stevens led his school to two consecutive national championship games. But he always knew he’d never be the most celebrated figure on campus.
That honor went to Blue II, the 9-year-old, sweater-wearing English Bulldog mascot who walked softly but carried a big bone.
“Ever since the Final Four, it’s really been unbelievable his following,” Stevens once said. “It’s been great. It’s a big part of Butler.”
But now both have left the campus, Stevens to the Boston Celtics, and Blue II to a better place. Five months after retiring his collar, Blue II died Saturday of congestive heart failure, the university announced Tuesday.
In a final word to his legions of fans, Blue II tweeted, “How do I know that all dogs go to heaven? Because I’m there now.”
Blue II found national fame trotting alongside the men’s basketball team during successive Final Four runs in 2010 and 2011. He was succeeded by Butler Blue III in March and walked with Butler’s 2013 graduating class in May.
“Blue really galvanized the pride and tradition of having a live mascot at Butler,” owner Michael Kaltenmark said in a statement. “His daily presence on campus, online and at everything from athletic events to black tie galas made him a living and breathing fixture of the Butler brand. He was born for the role.”
Said Butler President Jim Danko: “Blue epitomized the Butler Way. We will miss him very much.”
Blue suffered from dilated cardiomyopathy, which affects both the right and left sides of the heart. In the final months of his life, the Kaltenmarks inserted his medication into some specially-cooked chicken breasts and his favorite treat, ice cream. In addition, received a steady diet of steaks Indianapolis restaurant landmark St. Elmo’s.
His portrait will be on display at Starbucks in Butler’s Atherton Union through the weekend.
Blue II became a media darling over the years, meeting celebrities that included Colin Powell, Jimmy Fallon and Jillian Michaels. During the 2011 Final Four in Houston, he met former president George H.W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush.
He was owned by Kaltenmark, a 2002 Butler graduate and the school’s director of web marketing, and wife Tiffany.
“Blue had an uncanny ability to rise to the occasion,” Kaltenmark said. “Whether it was live TV, a visit with elementary school kids or just a photo shoot, he was a professional. I think it afforded him the respect and envy of a lot of other schools and fans.”
The school is planning a Bulldog Memorial to honor and remember Blue and all of Butler’s live mascots – past and present. Any additional funds raised will go to support the Campaign for Hinkle Fieldhouse.