Bryant University bulldog collapses, dies unexpectedly
A college campus in Rhode Island is in mourning after its bulldog mascot collapsed and died during a campus festival.
Tupper died unexpectedly Wednesday night after a photo shoot at Bryant University’s "Festival of Lights" celebration. Students, faculty, and administrators alike are all shocked by the news.
His full name was "Ironclad Tupper the First.” He was a pure-bred bulldog, chosen from a litter eight years ago this coming spring, and was the first ever official real-life mascot for the college community.
Kati Machtley, the First Lady of Bryant University, was there for the choosing.
“We held him a lot. We brought him close to our faces. We wanted to make sure that he wouldn't react in an adverse way to anybody else who did that who may not know any better -- and he was perfect,” Machtley told NBC 10 News.
Students across the Smithfield campus also weighed in.
“He was always wanting to take pictures and he was always so cute and cuddly,” said Kristina Morrison, a sophomore.
Her friend and classmate, Kayla Bauerlein, shared similar sentiments.
“He lives within all of us, like, we're all bulldogs, so like we embody him,” she said.
Tupper was named after the 428-acre Smithfield campus donated by Earl Tupper, an alumnus who is also the founder of the Tupperware fortune.
It was back in 1995 when the mascot and logo, after a campus-wide vote, were changed from the "Indians" to the “Bulldogs.”
“The Indians is not what we wanted to have (anymore), so we picked the bulldog because of its tenacity and fierceness, but Tupper was anything but that,” said Machtley.
Logan Paul, who plays on the university’s girls softball team, loved having Tupper around.
“We have so much fun using that as kind of a motivator in practice and kind of as school as a whole,” she said.
After the transition, there were bulldog mascots in costumes, but this Tupper was the first real-live bulldog, who was mellow and friendly, was a certified therapy pet, which made him great during exam week. He also learned how to high-five with both front paws.
Jake Lewtan, a Bryant Senior, sums it up.
“He was the definition of unity and family on this campus, and that's what made him so special to the community,” Lewtan said. Tupper I will never be forgotten, but I'm sure Tupper II will live up to Tupper 1's legacy.”
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)