Western community helps dog mascots celebrate birthdays

Karla Foster, Courier Staff

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Some might say a birthday party for your dog may seem a little off or weird. However, when you are the school mascot, or the heir to be the school mascot, a big birthday party is a privilege and a moment that you will never forget.

The weekend saw a humongous platter of cupcakes with purple and yellow frosting, a big birthday card with hundreds of guests crowding around the two dogs that we all know and love: Col. Rock III along with his cousin Ray. In honor of both of their birthdays, WIU went all out to celebrate.

Even though Ray’s birthday has technically passed (Feb. 14), Rocky’s is not until March 3. Their trainer, however, decided to combine both the already-celebrated birthday and upcoming birthday for the two on Friday at the Union food court. Crowds of students, faculty and staff came around the two excited dogs to wish them a beloved “Happy Birthday,” pick up a cupcake and take a picture with the dogs. Students were really happy to see the dogs smiling faces in the Union last Friday.

The mascots’ current owner and trainer, Joe Roselieb, also seem to be really excited for the big birthday bash as any proud owner should. Roselieb is also the Director of Residential and Auxiliary Facilities at Western Illinois University.

The celebration of the “real” Rockys began in the 1950s. During that time, there was a name choosing for the new pup, and Col. Rock was chosen. Even though the dogs aren’t technically from the same blood line, they are related as cousins.

Even though they are both well trained, that doesn’t mean the two dogs couldn’t get a little silly, it was their birthday after all. There was no interview needed in order to see how happy and excited the two dogs were about their wonderful, special and big birthday. The two tried their hardest to stuff their adorable faces in the cupcakes, but don’t worry, they were able to get some of the delicious treats. They had to learn to share, after obeying the trainer and consenting to a few students who wanted to share the light that these two got, myself included. It’s not often that you can take a picture with the school mascot.

Sadly, Col. Rock III is on his way to retirement, and his cousin Ray will take the job. As for right now, the dogs are alternating between games and events.

“Rocky is taking retirement really well,” Roselieb said. “He likes to sit in the window sometimes and just sunbathe, he also helps with Ray’s training.”

Hopefully Ray can fulfill the legacy that he is destined for. Until then, both dogs will enjoy their time being the faces of Western Illinois University.

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