Butler Blue II, who has served Butler University proudly as mascot for nearly nine years, is retiring.
Blue II (nickname: Blue) and his understudy, Butler Blue III (nickname: Trip), will participate in the University’s first “Changing of the Collar” ceremony on March 9, Senior Day at Hinkle Fieldhouse, during the Butler men’s basketball game against Xavier University.
Additionally, the Butler University Student Foundation will host a ninth birthday party and retirement celebration for Blue on campus on March 29.
“Blue II is in good health, but 8 years old is getting up there for an English bulldog,” said Michael Kaltenmark, Butler’s director of Web Marketing and Communications and handler of the live mascots. “Blue has served Butler so admirably all these years, and we want him to go out on top. Retirement will mean fewer appearances and less official business for Blue, but he will continue to come to campus on a regular basis and post on his various social media profiles.”
An American Kennel Club-registered dog, Blue II became known as “America’s Dog” in 2010 and 2011 when Butler men’s basketball team played for the NCAA national championship. Blue II appeared on the floor of every Butler men’s home and Final Four basketball games, as well as some away games. Butler players touched him before each game for good luck as they were introduced.
“Blue II 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 II was bred by Frank and Jeane King of Kong King Kennel in Lizton, Ind., and presented to Butler as a puppy. He was cared for by Kaltenmark, a 2002 Butler graduate and director of Web Marketing and Communications, who also served as his voice on Facebook, where he was liked by more than 7,500 people, and Twitter, where he had more than 11,500 followers. In 2011, Klout, a company that measures influence in social media, named Blue II’s Twitter feeds among the nation’s Top 10 most influential accounts representing a college or university.
The dog also had his own website, a vehicle provided by Don Hinds Ford, veterinarian care compliments of 1992 Butler grad Dr. Kurt Phillips, and a host of other sponsors such as the dog food brand Holistic Select.
Over the years, Blue II became a media sensation, hobnobbing with celebrities including Colin Powell, Jimmy Fallon and Jillian Michaels. During the Final Four in 2011 in Houston, Blue II also met the likes of former President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush.
Blue II’s replacement, Trip, made his debut on Feb. 18, 2012, and has been trailing Blue since.
Given Butler Blue I’s early departure from service in 2004, no official ceremony had been established to introduce and transition new mascots. Thanks to local jeweler Reis-Nichols Jewelers, a new University tradition has been born. Reis-Nichols and Butler University have partnered to commission a new, custom collar to be used for the ceremony and future official events.
This new official custom collar will feature sterling silver elements, including the University seal, athletic logo, Butler Blue logo, and mascot names, on blue leather.
“We are honored to be a part of this chapter in the University’s history,” said BJ Nichols of Reis-Nichols. “The custom emblems that will adorn Blue’s collar were created on our state-of-the-art auto cad computer design program, and we’ve enjoyed having Trip come in for his ‘fittings.’”
In addition to the collar, local artist James Kelly of Mad Lab Studios will be unveiling a portrait of Blue as gift to the University. The portrait will likely be unveiled at the March 9 game and again at the campus birthday/retirement party, which is scheduled for noon to 2 p.m. March 29 in Atherton Union on Butler’s campus. The party is open to the public. Blue will be on hand to greet the campus community, pose for pictures, and collect a few much-deserved parting gifts.