In a move we hope every single college football program copies, Tulsa is adding a canine "ambassador" to lead the football players on to the field and do community outreach.
Goldie, a five-month-old golden retriever, will likely ride in a golf cart this season - she's still training - but starting in 2014, she'll be free to frolic on the field with the Golden Hurricane players. (Sorry, Temple, but I think this manages to trump Stella the Owl.)
"I can't imagine anything more adorable," Tulsa vice president of institutional advancement Kayla Acebo told the Tulsa World's John Hoover, "than seeing a golden retriever with a Hurricane flag cape draped around her neck running with the cheerleaders and leading the mighty Golden Hurricane out onto the field on game day."
How did the university decide on Goldie from a litter of seven retriever pups? They turned to trainer Susan Owen, who described what made the Golden Hurricane ambassador stand out:
"She just kept jumping out to me as the one that was very nicely middle-of-the-road," Owen said. "She wasn't the one going around jumping on everybody all the time. There weren't any that were shrinking violet or very shy. She wanted to play all the time, but then when you picked her up, she just melted in your arms and was just very soft, and that's what we need. That's what we're looking for specifically for this job."
Choosing between seven golden retriever puppies seems like both the best and hardest job possible, but Owen was game for the task, with experience training dogs for film work, therapy, rescue and prison rehab.
Goldie has visited youth baseball tournaments and football and band camps to get used to crowds of people alternating between focusing on sports and fawning over her. She's also posed for photos with Tulsa players and even survived an encounter with Captain Cane, the school's somewhat terrifying superhero mascot.
Here's a great video from the Tulsa World about Goldie, if you want to see more (which of course you do):
- Sports & Recreation
- Arts & Entertainment
- golden retriever
- Susan Owen