College basketball lost over the weekend what was arguably its most famous mascot. Blue II, Butler's mascot for most of the past decade, died due to complications from heart disease. He was 9. The school announced the death Tuesday afternoon, and Blue II's caretaker, Michael Kaltenmark, logged one final diary -- written in the first-person tone -- for his beloved English bulldog.
Though the news was disseminated Tuesday, Blue II in fact died Saturday, Aug. 31. He worked with the school and served as mascot all of his life, from 2004-2013. The dog was a popular attraction at many Butler games, from ones in Hinkle Fieldhouse to Butler's back-to-back Final Four trips in 2010 and 2011. I myself couldn't even step in to pet him at Butler vs. Fordham last winter -- because about 25 students were around him, giving him attention.
Blue II is succeeded by Blue III, nicknamed "Trip," who became Butler's primary mascot effective in March.
“Blue really galvanized the pride and tradition of having a live mascot at Butler,” Kaltenmark said. “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. ... Blue had an uncanny ability to rise to the occasion. 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.”
Blue began to show signs of health deterioration in the spring, and over the summer a public update was given on his health and the fact that his death seemed inevitable in the short-term. In addition to heart disease, Blue II suffered from Cushing's Disease, an ailment in canines that causes hair loss, weight gain and affects the adrenal glands.
The school is planning on erecting a permanent memorial on-campus for Blue II and all past and future mascots at the university.
"While the plans are still coming together, I can tell you that the memorial will include a bronze bulldog sculpted in my likeness, as well as a brick doghouse where my remains and those of my successors will reside eternally," Blue II's voice states in his final blog entry. "Fittingly, the memorial will be prominently situated in the shadows of Hinkle Fieldhouse, easily accessible for all to enjoy."