Yale University has a pretty special mascot, but it’s not just about team spirit. Handsome Dan was the first live college mascot ever. A new pup born this year is lifting spirits on campus in the role.
Walking around Yale’s campus, there are a lot of interesting characters, but only one celebrity: and he walks on four legs!
“Some people will see him and kind of do a double-take,” Kassandra Haro, Handsome Dan’s handler and Yale program administrator, said.
He’s called handsome for a reason. The 11-month bulldog is happily taking on his new role as university mascot.
“He brings great morale. I mean, what other campus has alive mascot who walks around and gives you kisses?” Julia Bialek, a junior student tour guide, said.
Duty number one is socializing.
“He loves people loves people!” Haro said. “With his little butt wiggles, he goes up to people and just sits there and waits for them to pet him.”
Handsome Dan lives in New Haven with Haro.
“He's my baby,” she said. “His at-home name, his non-stage name is Kingman.”
Kingman was born in Maine on January 2 of this year, part of a litter of nine bulldog pups. Even as a little tyke, he was a show-stopper.
“He just was a little angel,” Haro said. “He would bite my toes and my fingers, get my attention. And he was just so cute.”
It landed him the job.
“Pretty much within the first few minutes,” Haro said. “At the end of the day, like five hours of looking at all the puppies, I was like, this is definitely the one.”
Kingman loves a good snuggle.
“Sometimes you know, he's just a lazy bulldog,” Haro said. “He loves watching Marvel movies. Those are his favorite, and Lilo and Stitch.”
But he only allows himself that leisure when he can find the time in his booked social calendar.
“Immediately when he sees people, he just like wants to play with them. He loves them. He'll go up to people and nuzzle his way into their legs to have them pet him,” Haro said.
Kingman is the 19th Handsome Dan on campus, but his role is a bit different than his predecessors.
“Previously Handsome Dans were really focused around athletics,” Haro said.
But Kingman’s home base is the Visitor’s Center. He helps recruit for the university.
“Prospective students especially are overjoyed, especially ones who really want to come to Yale and know about handsome Dan,” Bialek said.
He also gets plenty of love from the student tour guides.
“I babytalk him like I would talk to my own dogs,” Madison Sirota, a sophomore student tour guide, said. “My mom is absolutely in love with him, too. I'll sometimes FaceTime her while I see Handsome Dan, and she'll say hi to him.”
Handsome Dan even has his own fortress at the Visitor’s Center. A 10-square-foot dog house was built in a student competition hosted by the center and the School of Architecture.
All that is not to say he is not a sports lover.
“We really enjoy going to the home football games,” Haro said. “He loves hockey, that's one of his favorite sports!”
He’s also passionate about the arts, and loves to listen to classical music stream out the windows of the School of Music.
Yale students cannot get enough of him.
“He just brings happiness to the community,” Sirota said.
The playful pup, arriving at Yale during the pandemic, is bringing a little light and a lot of laughter to campus.
“He does a lot of a lot of like morale boosting around campus. Honestly, that's his big thing,” Haro said.
If you want to keep up with Handsome Dan’s thriving social life, you can follow all his adventures on his social media accounts.