ATHENS ― The holidays are busy for most people, but this year a certain mascot is finding himself busier than ever.
Uga X, known as Que before he took over the mascot mantle in November 2015, and his handler Charles Seiler usually have a busy bowl season. But this year the season is heightened with Georgia heading to the Rose Bowl to face Oklahoma on Jan. 1 in one semifinal of the College Football Playoff.
“We typically look at it as ‘Do another game then do another game,’ ” Seiler said. “Then after the season is over, we kind of shake our heads and say, ‘Wow. What all was that that we just did?’ Because we really don’t have time to think about it.”
Between taking media requests and scheduling events, the Seiler family will use Christmas as a way to take a breath before the Rose Bowl craziness ensues.
Besides, Uga has some presents to open too.
“I have already received a lot of fan mail for him,” Seiler said. “One lady has been sending him a homemade Christmas ornament usually based on the bowl game that we go to since I was in school.”
Other gifts for Uga this year include a care package from his veterinarian, with more dog treats than he will know what to do with, according to Seiler, and a large stack of letters from children who wrote to Uga instead of Santa.
But the best gift for Uga is the opportunity to cheer on Georgia on Jan. 1 in Pasadena. Contrary to what many people might think, Seiler doesn’t really know what his plans are once he gets to California.
“We do what we can do, and we plan the best we can,” Seiler said about his hectic holiday schedule. “Most people would freak out to know that Uga doesn’t really know exactly what his plans are, simply because they are tentative at this point.”
Seiler said that it is important to keep Uga on a set schedule, even in California and even though he is not exactly sure what that schedule will look like. But the actual schedule for Uga once in California will not be as strenuous as the schedule the family has to take to get to California from their home in Savannah, Ga.
“I think the biggest challenge on this trip will be the fact that we have to drive five hours to Athens, then two hours by bus to Atlanta and then get in a plane and go five and a half hours,” Seiler said. “We are pretty much going to be spending a whole day of travel, and that kind of throws the dog off.”
But Seiler is prepared. He has specific medicine for Uga’s ears, seeing as long plane rides sometimes will mess with a dog’s ears.
And while Seiler and his family are invited to many events the day of the Rose Bowl, it’s important that Uga, like the players taking the field for Georgia on that same day, stays in the zone.
“We try to keep the dog on schedule because if he does anything active before the game, he will typically sleep during the second half of the game,” Seiler said. “At the end of the day, he is out there to be the mascot of the game, so we want him to be raring to go when the game starts.”
But if anyone will be ready to go when the Rose Bowl finally rolls around, it will be Uga.
Seiler describes Uga X as more “modest” than other dogs of his lineage, but he does everything that is asked of him.
“This dog is very calm, which makes him really good for taking pictures with children. But you can kind of time your watch; he’ll do something for 45 minutes, and then it is time for him to move on, and when that happens we have to move on,” Seiler said. “But by and large, this dog has done everything he is supposed to do. We are still working on a few things, but I think he is getting to really enjoy it.”
And he will enjoy this coming game as the first official Uga to make an appearance at the Rose Bowl. In 1943, the last time Georgia went to the Rose Bowl, there was no official mascot on record because of war times. After the 1943 season, a bulldog named Mr. Angel took over in 1944.
So, as the football team prepares to be the first Georgia team to play at the Rose Bowl in more than seven decades, Uga X prepares to be the first official Georgia dog to roam the sidelines at the Rose Bowl … ever.