The words my daughter spoke made me stop my car. She simply said, "Dad, UGA VII died?"
It was a question, not a comment. I stopped the car to take in what she had said.
"What? You must be reading something old. It said UGA VI not VII." But her reply only confirmed her initial comment.
She was surfing the net with the glorious piece of electronics known as the iPhone. Information at the touch of a screen. Updated 12 seconds earlier.
UGA VII had indeed passed away from a sudden heart attack.
Everyone in the car had the same thought.... I'm gonna cry!!
In a season of disappointment for Georgia fans, this may be the biggest slap in the face yet. To lose our beloved mascot at the young age of four is just enough to put many Dawg fans over the edge.
For those who do not understand the loss, just move on back to to the Quilty Pleasures Section of b/r and skip what is left of this article.
For those who love the Dawg nation, you understand what the feeling is tonight in Savannah, in Athens and all across this great state.
This is not just a mascot. This is OUR mascot. This is OUR Dawg!
Everyone wants a picture of UGA. Everyone wants to pet UGA or get a slobbery lick from the world's most loved mascot.
So many times I have made a detour on my way to section 337 in Sanford stadium to visit UGA underneath the bridge in Athens. A barricade is up at the rear of UGA owner Sonny Seiler's car just to keep the crowd back at a safe distance. I do mean a crowd. Young, old and middle age all line up for a picture or just to get a glimpse of America's most famous mascot.
I won't go into the details of telling you all about the history of the UGA line. When I introduced UGA VII to the b/r nation in my article, UGA VII The Legend Lives on at Georgia, I gave you some of the history behind this great mascot.
When UGA VII started his reign in Athens we all knew that he had some big shoes to fill. His dad, UGA VI was "bigger and badder" than those before him. He compiled an impressive record of 87-27 and won more games than any other UGA.
A pretty good job for an UGA that followed the most famous UGA of all time, UGA V. UGA V was a movie star (Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil), he was a cover boy (Sports Illustrated 1997), and no one will ever forget the picture of V attacking Auburn's Robert Baker.
UGA VII stepped in for his dad in August of 2008. Of all the UGA's, only his father weighed more than he did. Most UGA's are around for seven to ten seasons. That would not be the case for the latest in this great line of dawgs.
UGA VII was only able to give us the better part of two seasons. His record will stand at 16-7.
But he was much more than a record. He was not as active as his daddy was, but he was always in his place patrolling the sideline each and every Saturday. His reign as UGA is now the shortest reign in the history of the line. He will be missed.
To the Seiler family, the Bulldog nation once again must thank you. While we have lost a beloved mascot, you have lost a beloved family member. While we were thrilled to steal those moments watching UGA pace the sideline or posing for a picture, you spent every day with him, loving him as family.
"We are all in a state of shock," Sonny Seiler said. "We had no warning whatsoever."
Seiler's daughter Swan told the Atlanta Journal Constitution, "You can imagine, we are devastated.. He was such a sweet dog. This is a very hard day."
Burial information has not been released yet, but you can be assured that UGA VII will be laid to rest with his ancestors in Sanford Stadium.
Saturday the Dawgs will host Kentucky in their final home game for 2009. There will be no UGA patrolling the sidelines. Somehow I just don't think it will be the same. I am sure that many will spend moments glancing to the sideline where the UGA doghouse sits, then suddenly realizing VII isn't there.
The Seiler's hope to have a stand in ready for the Tech game. A process is in place for such a loss. No one was expecting it would be needed for an UGA so young.
I feel sure that there will be many tributes to UGA VII played on the video screen during the game. Hopefully the Dawgs will win one for UGA on Saturday.
So Bulldog fans this is just another blow in what has been a long season. Let's make sure that the Bulldog nation is loud and proud on Saturday night. Let's give the Dawgs all the support they need.
R.I.P UGA VII (served the Bulldog nation proudly, August 2008-November 2009).
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