By Erika McVey, News Correspondent
Northeastern can boast about a special tradition many other schools cannot: representation by a live mascot. Unfortunately, that tradition has been in peril several times over the years.
Currently, King Husky VIII, an 8-year-old former American Kennel Association champion, holds the throne. He comes from a long line of greatness. His father was born in South Africa and was a champion there, and his litter sister is a famous champion ranked in the top 20 for US show wins. He is the perfect size, color and temperament for an AKC Siberian Husky.
King Husky VIII is the current heir to the first King Husky, who was not crowned until 1927 when Northeastern selected its official mascot. King Husky I, a very lively dog, was known for his tricks at football games and held his throne until his passing in 1941.
He was replaced by Queen Husky I who died a few months after she was crowned. King Husky II then took over until 1952, when he retired due to old age and arthritis.
King Husky III was crowned in 1952 but fell ill the summer of 1955 and had to be put to sleep, according to the Northeastern University Libraries website. Students were not notified of their mascot’s death so as not to cause backlash against the kennel, but they were extremely upset when they discovered the news upon their return in the fall. The school paper, then called the Northeastern News, tried to run a story on the supposed cover up, and four editors quit their post when they were denied the right to publish it.
“I can understand why the students were so upset. Our mascot is an important member of our school, and I would want to know if anything happened to him,” sophomore computer science major Matt Singer said.
Eager to pacify the students, Northeastern brought in temporary mascot Princess Regent Husky for the next two years. She was replaced by King Husky IV who reigned for only a few short months. The kennel where he stayed when off-duty suffered an outbreak of canine distemper, a contagious viral illness, that killed all of their dogs, including the Northeastern ruler.
After the controversy surrounding the mascot, the school decided it was best to discontinue the tradition of live huskies, and instead replaced it with Mr. and Mrs. Husky and the statue in Ell Hall, according to the website.
“I love the statue outside of Blackman and I always rub the nose for good luck, but I just don’t think it’s the same as having a real dog,” undeclared freshman Orson Cheng said.
The class of 1970 felt similarly, so a group of freshman purchased King Husky V, who would rule until they graduated. Queen Husky II replaced the graduated husky, but she suffered severe stage fright and passed the throne to her son, King Husky VI, in 1972. Unfortunately he escaped from his kennel and was struck and killed by a car only four months into his reign.
King Husky VII took over at the end of the ‘72-’73 school year and held the throne until he died of old age in 1989. The school once again decided to end the tradition, as they had trouble finding a replacement. Left without a mascot for years, the students voted to create Paws in 2003.
In 2005, former Dean of Student Affairs Clyde Speare wanted to bring back Northeastern’s sense of tradition, and King Husky VIII was crowned.
Before Northeastern’s football team was disbanded, he attended all of the home games. Now he attends many basketball and hockey games, the freshmen convocation, student government events, and any other school events he is invited to.
His breeder and handler, Margaret Cook (class of 1964, College of Liberal Arts), says he is a very playful but attentive dog.
“When he’s not fulfilling his role as King Husky he mostly hangs out,” Cook said. “He plays with the other dogs at my house. He’s very playful and he loves to play ball. At the football games he was always very alert and wanted to go chase the ball.”