As most of the low-country knows, the bulldog is the beloved mascot of The Citadel. The Commandant has allowed the establishment of a new program for the cadets involving the bulldogs. The new program is headed by Cadet Jennifer Pozzani, who has worked alongside Citadel administration to develop procedures for cadets to be “Caretakers of the Bulldogs.” Most cadets are already familiar with the million-dollar dogs, General and Boo, but now there will be one primary company with the distinguished honor of housing and caring for one of the two bulldogs during the school-year. This brand-new program was first thought of after the original keeper of the two dogs passed away, may he rest in peace. Cadet Pozzani met on many occasions with the Commandant and staff to organize a new plan. She was honored with the opportunity to visit Texas A&M to observe how their mascot program was run, so she could come back and help to replicate and make the program better at the Citadel. She is extremely passionate about the mascots of the Corps and deeply loves both dogs. Pozzani has gone through multiple hours of training to ensure this program will reach its fullest potential.
A few differences from the Texas A&M program are that the Aggies have a specific rank for their “handler(s)”, but at The Citadel it is a completely voluntary program with no rank incentive involved. Boo becomes a part of her handler’s cadet lifestyle. They wake up, walk with, eat with, and go back to sleep with her for a year, including all furloughs. Furthermore, other required military duties are not excusable: SMIs, Parades, PT, classes, or any events where the dog is requested to attend, are all additional duties that the caretaker needs to fulfill. There are a few privileges involved: crossing the parade deck, using elevators, and crossing the quad, are permitted because the bulldogs will get tired quickly and the caretaker could be late for duty or a class. All potential handlers are required to take a knowledge test of do’s, don’ts, and how to’s when taking care of Boo. There is no room for failure in taking care of General and Boo because they are worth more than everyday dogs; they represent the school and so do the caretakers.
A few things to consider when being a caretaker are getting to know the dog and the responsibilities entailed within the job description. Boo is an energetic and, at times, very stubborn bulldog with a pedigree in adorableness. She is not just a companion, but also a challenge to take care of. Everything becomes like an objective when taking care of her: from getting her dressed for the day, taking her to the restroom, feeding her, and especially getting her to classes and events. If she is stubborn enough to not move, then the CARETAKERS ONLY can carry her. This job is clearly a major responsibility, but it is a fun time around Boo. Sometimes during Regimental Physical Training one can see her running across Summerall Field to different companies with either a ball, or just rolling around in the grass. She is extremely motivated, loves cadets, and appeals to them because in classes she will fall asleep like any other sleep deprived cadet.
Boo is a morale booster not only to the cadets, but to the entire Citadel family. Cadets will always try to coddle her and make her feel special. Even the staff enjoys the presence of our precious dog. Boo is a sweetheart, and everyone enjoys her company. Next year there will actually be 2 companies who will take care of the bulldogs, and in the fall of 2018 there will be a new “General”. This new program is an extremely time-consuming task, but it is a beneficial and fun task for both the caretakers and the dogs.
-Charles Carter M’21