Like everyone else who follows the world of college canine mascots, Hair Balls was saddened to hear of the death Thursday of retired Texas A&M mascot Reveille VII. Her passing, following emergency surgery, took us by surprise, and we couldn't sleep last night, so instead we penned this eulogy:
We are gathered here today to remember and honor a true dog among dogs -- a loving soul who was not just a mascot, but a true Aggie, and a friend to thousands of students and alumni. It's odd to think that it's been six years since she first graced the sidelines and barked her loving support for the team. It seems like only yesterday that we saw her squat demurely outside the science building and release a proud golden stream.
Reveille VII was born on October 9 in Ft. Lauderdale and was inducted the following February. As is custom, she was the highest-ranking member of the Corps of Cadets -- a five-star general. In this way, she was not only a role model for other collies, but for all female dogs who have found their snouts pressed against the glass ceiling.
While most mascots might be content to simply live in the limelight, Reveille VII wanted more out of life. She enrolled in the university's Dwight Look College of Engineering in the fall semester of 2002, where she double-majored in aerospace engineering and industrial distribution. When she wasn't training with the Corps -- who reverently addressed her as "Miss Rev, ma'am," she could be found at the library, her pointy nose buried deep in books. During her time at the school, her GPA never dipped below 3.8 -- the highest grade-point average of anyone in the Corps or on the football team. Indeed, she was generous with her time, offering individual tutoring sessions as well as leading study groups in the cafeteria before exams.
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But she was also beloved off-campus -- she attended President George W. Bush's inauguration and traveled the country as a goodwill ambassador. But as these demands for public appearances increased, her patience appeared to wane. She was the first mascot to require a muzzle, and in 2004, while yell leaders escorted her onto the field, she ripped off a cadet's pant leg. Then, while on a run with the Corps' E-2 squad in 2007, she bit the mascot corporal.
As you may recall, someone had accidentally stepped on her tail, but still, such conduct was unbecoming of an Aggie. While some of us may have questioned the thinking behind making a seven-year-old long-haired dog go on a run in August in Texas, we expect more from our mascots. After all, her predecessors had endured even more demanding activities -- Reveille I once worked as a stevedore, and Reveille III's collegiate duties were interrupted in 1968 when she was drafted and stationed in Da Nang as part of the 21st Infantry Regiment. Remember how proud we all were to see her return with the Distinguished Service Medal and that necklace of NVA ears?
Number Seven had to be quarantined after that second bite, and her time in isolation did her no favors. When she was released, she took to disrupting the Corps' cheering with gruff, guttural barks filled with equal parts menace and angst. In 2008, the Corps thought it best that she retire.
We like to think she found the peace in retirement that eluded her during her time on campus. We just know she's in heaven, rollicking carefree with the Lassies, Benjis and Beethovens who preceded her in death. And we picture her squatting by the pearly gates, looking down upon us, as she releases her All-American stream.