Rescue turned mascot

Published 11:27 pm Wednesday, April 15, 2009

By By Chandler Myers
Every dog has its day, and for Rocky I he is seeing more happy days after being adopted by University of North Carolina-Asheville alumni Ed and Alexis Johnson.
Rocky, a Victorian Bulldog formerly known as Rebel, came to UNCA by way of Rockin’ P. Boxer rescue in Jackson, Ala.
Before that he was sheltered there he had been placed at the Humane Society of Escambia County in Brewton with a female Dixie and their 10 puppies.
Renee Jones, director of the Humane Society of Escambia County, said Rocky (Rebel) and the other dogs were left in the shelter’s drop box by their owners.
She said that after taking the dogs home with her she found another shelter to take them in.
Rebel’s journey then took an amazing turn as the student-body at UNCA decided they wanted a live mascot for the first time in 25 years.
Kevan Frazier, UNC Asheville Associate Vice Chancellor for Alumni Relations, said students became more interested in the history of the school and how it used to have a live bulldog as the mascot.
After the interest of having a live mascot grew the administration at the university looked into the possibilities.
Frazier said his role was to be as an advisor for the students.
According to a news release by the UNCA Public Information Office, this is where the Johnson’s came into the picture.
The Johnson’s volunteered to be the caretakers for the dog that became the mascot.
The release states that Ed Johnson, a staff member in the mathematics department, began looking at breeders around the south. After not finding the dog he was looking for he started looking into rescue shelters and found Rebel.
Frazier said that when Ed and Alexis drove to look at the dog they fell in love.
Rocky went back to Asheville with the Johnson’s and became a part of the UNC Asheville family.
Frazier said the reaction to the mascot has been really positive. He added the reaction has been even better since Rocky came from a shelter.
Rocky made his debut as the mascot for UNC Asheville during the Bulldogs’ homecoming basketball game against Coastal Carolina on Feb. 21, which was turned into a 74-63 victory for the team sporting the new mascot.
Jones said it is really exciting to see the dog living such a happy life. She added that there is one ironic thing about Rocky’s story.
Currently the Humane Society of Escambia County is looking for volunteers in transportation and fostering. Anyone interested may call the Humane Society at 251-867-6860.

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