Bryant University is on the hunt for a new mascot a day after the school’s beloved, slobbering English bulldog, Tupper, passed away suddenly from an apparent stroke.
School officials said Thursday that the pooch died Wednesday night during the “Festival of Lights” event at the Rhode Island college. Tupper was Bryant’s first live mascot, and was introduced to the school in 2010. Sports teams at the Smithfield-based school are known as the Bulldogs.
“It is my sad duty to inform our community that our beloved mascot, Ironclad Tupper I, passed away peacefully last night,” Bryant University president Ronald Machtley said in a statement on the school’s Facebook page. “He was bright, friendly, and always willing to lend a paw when needed to cheer on our teams or welcome new students. He will be sorely missed.”
Machtley said the school will “immediately” seek out a new mascot to take the bulldog’s place, one that will bring “the same sense of pride to the many events at which he will represent Bryant’s spirit.”
“Tupper I will always be remembered as the first in what we hope will be a long and proud line of terrific, tenacious Bulldog mascots,” he said. “No school could have asked for a better, more loyal, and friendly mascot.”
Tupper was a featured guest at many of the school’s events, including reunions and homecoming celebrations. He often rode around in a “bulldog buggy” — a sort of baby carriage — because his owner didn’t “have time to wait for me to saunter along,” according to a tongue-in-cheek story on HerCampus.com, where Tupper did an interview in March.
“Tup’s mom” and caretaker alerted the community about his death in a tweet from the mascot’s Twitter account.
She said the dog “just collapsed and stopped breathing” with no hint or warning that anything was wrong. Efforts to save the dog were unsuccessful.
“Our dear Tupper got his angel wings unexpectedly tonight,” the tweet read. “He spent his last moments on campus surrounded by people who loved him & for that, I’m grateful.”
In a follow-up message to the Globe, Tina Senecal, a Bryant employee and Tupper’s caretaker, said the dog “loved coming to campus and interacting with the students” and was “a wonderful therapy dog.”
There was an outpouring of support for Tupper and his caregivers on social media Thursday.
On the Facebook page “Bryant University Mascot Tupper,” where pictures of the bulldog dressed up or with a ball in his mouth were posted regularly, along with updates regarding his whereabouts, fans shared personal memories of their interactions with the mascot.
“So sad to hear this,” one person wrote. “At any alumni event it was always my goal to try to find Tupper. He was such a sweet boy.”
We are saddened today to announce that our mascot @BryantTuppy passed away at last night's Festival of Lights. Tupper was a symbol of grit and determination for our students, and always willing to lend a paw to cheer on our teams or welcome new students. He will be sorely missed. pic.twitter.com/IxDwo8IZXp— Bryant University (@BryantUniv) December 7, 2017
There will be a full announcement tomorrow, but I didn't want you all to worry overnight. Our dear Tupper got his angel wings unexpectedly tonight. He spent his last moments on campus surrounded by people who loved him & for that, I'm grateful. ~Tup's mom pic.twitter.com/McI2CZTuGV— BryantMascot Tupper� (@BryantTuppy) December 7, 2017
Tupper passed away yesterday. He was not just our mascot but a symbol of who we are. I remember taking my girls to Bryant bball games and their being so excited to see and pet Tupper. Here is a brief clip I shot of Tupper a few years back. RIP Tupper #bryant #tupper #rip pic.twitter.com/vogj7tZ9tp— Tom Zammarelli (@TomZammarelli) December 7, 2017
the whole of Bryant University is united in shock and mourning over the death of our beloved bulldog mascot, Tupper— patrick barton (@paddybaarton) December 7, 2017
So sorry to hear this news. Tupper was the best and he always lifted our spirits as students at Bryant. He will be miss very much!— Alli Salzberg (@AlliSalz) December 7, 2017