Hound Handlers Shed Light on Live Mascot Program

Kelly McClellan and Nathan Burford undoubtedly have two of the most unique jobs on campus as the main caretakers for Vic and Tory, ENMU’s live greyhound mascots.

The live mascot program has been in place at Eastern since 2009. Though the original greyhounds have since been retired, the program has remained very much the same with the exception of a few improvements.

“There’s nothing better than getting paid to take care of dogs,” said Burford, a Physical Education major. “A lot of people don’t know that [ENMU] has a dog program. I love to watch them show off…I enjoy that we have more than just fluffy mascot costumes.”

Burford used to be a biology major and wanted to become a veterinarian, leading him to become involved with Vic and Tory. Once he changed his major, he never left because he fell in love with the greyhounds. He has now been a “Hound Handler” for one year and is one of five students who are paid to keep Vic and Tory on schedule with feedings, walks, food, events, and more.

Vic and Tory are highly trained and recognize at least 25 different commands. Commands are spoken in a mixture of German and English. Both greyhounds live at what many students call the “Hound House,” a house on campus that is specifically for the two dogs to live in.

Both dogs have a strict schedule which consists of waking up at 8 a.m., eating breakfast at 10 a.m., going to their scheduled walks and events for the day, and eating dinner at 6 p.m.

“I really like taking them to the dog park in Clovis. It’s pretty cute to watch and to see how others react to them,” said McClellan, an English major and lead trainer of the Live Mascot Program.

She has been working with the dogs for two years now and says that she became involved with the program largely due to her love of dogs.

Vic turned one on March 7, while Tory will turn two on April 18. The two hounds had a birthday celebration in the Campus Union Building on Monday, March 18, since the date fell between their two birthdays. Every Hound Handler came to the party along with a large number of students. All students were invited to attend, eat cake, and spend time with the dogs.

“Most students came for the cake and stayed when they saw the dogs,” said McClellan.

Both McClellan and Burford say that there are too many loveable qualities about each of the dogs, but both can agree that they have tons of character and personality.

“Vic loves showing off and Tori could run around the yard for thirty minutes straight,” Burford said.

McClellan added, “Vic is very cuddly and affectionate, while Tori is very energetic, enthusiastic, and puppy-like.”

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