One of college basketball's most beloved mascots revealed some sad news to his fans on Thursday: His heart is failing.
Blue II, a nine-year-old English bulldog who served as Butler's mascot until retiring in May, was diagnosed with heart disease this week, caretaker Michael Kaltenmark wrote on the dog's popular blog. Kaltenmark described the prognosis for Blue II as "grim" as dogs with his heart condition typically only live a few months.
"It’s with a heavy, slightly compromised, but still ticking heart that I tell you that I’ve been diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), affecting both the left and right side of my heart," Kaltenmark wrote in Blue II's words. "It’s maybe a bit ironic for a dog that’s been all-heart over the last nine years to develop heart disease, but then again, it’s probably no coincidence that my heart has been maxed out."
The diagnosis struck Butler fans hard because Blue II has been as much the face of Butler's basketball program during its meteoric rise as anyone besides coach Brad Stevens.
Blue II's popularity surge began during Butler's first Final Four run in 2010 when he and Kaltenmark traveled with the team and became media darlings. Since then, his Twitter following has grown to more than 13,000, he has launched accounts on Facebook and Instagram and he has appeared everywhere from USA Today, to CBS' Early Show, to Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
Though Blue II officially handed over the mascot duties to Blue III during a "Changing of the Collar" ceremony at halftime of Butler's last home game this season, Kaltenmark had no reason to believe the dog wouldn't enjoy a healthy retirement at that time. That changed in June, however, when Kaltenmark discovered scratches on Blue II's shoulder that kept increasing in size.
Blue II was diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease which occurs when a tumor forms on the pituitary gland in the brain, sends mixed messages to the adrenal glands and causes the immune system to get out of whack. Doctors thought they had that under control by late July, but Kaltenmark returned from a long weekend out of town on Sunday and found that Blue II's skin lesions had worsened, his paws were swollen, he wasn't eating and his breathing was labored.
It was then that Kaltenmark took Blue II to have a series of tests done, which resulted in the discovery of his heart failure.
"No doubt, my diagnosis and subsequent prognosis is grim, but thanks to the great care I’ve received, I’ve recovered enough to be able to head home to be with those I love," Kaltenmark wrote in Blue II's words. "So the bad news is I have irreversible heart disease, and it’s likely I won’t be back to Butler any time soon. The good news is, I feel much better, I’m eating well, and I have some more time to spend with my family. I’m a lucky Dawg!"
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