Early Sunday morning, Uga X the white English bulldog will ride to Indianapolis for the College Football Playoff National Championship game between Georgia and Alabama. His owner and handler, Charles Seiler, will drive. “When I pull his Suburban out and wash it, he’ll see me doing that,” Seiler says. “And then I’ll go in his closet and get his clothes out, and then I’ll pack his food. And then he’ll know that it’s time to go, and he’ll be nervous until we get in the car.”
Uga (pronounced uh-guh) has a romantic origin story: Charles’s parents, Sonny and Cecelia Seiler, got hitched during their senior year at the University of Georgia. They received a fated wedding gift: a white English bulldog. They toted him to a pregame lunch while Sonny was in law school in 1956, and then took him along to the game at Sanford Stadium. Georgia emerged victorious, 3-0, against Florida State. It was not a riveting performance, except for the sight of a bulldog sporting a handmade jersey. Uga was invited back to every subsequent game.
Nine Ugas later (all descendants of the first), the Seilers of Savannah are still the keepers of the Georgia bulldog. “They all look very much alike, and they all pretty much have the same disposition. We pick dogs that are level-headed and polite,” Seiler explains. “When the dog kind of goes through tryouts, we try to get a real docile one.”
On game day, Monday, this Uga (or Que, as he’s known to his family) will keep busy. He’s scheduled for an appearance on ABC’s Good Morning America, followed by a playdate with fellow English bulldog Butler Blue IV, who serves as the mascot for the host city’s Butler University. Seiler assumes those activities will just about wear a pup out, so Uga will then rest until game time. “We try to let him take a nap, because if he has done a lot of stuff in the morning, by the time the game rolls around, he may just sleep through it.”
Once the ball is in play, Uga will patrol the sidelines and enjoy what Seiler calls a “poor man’s air conditioner” (a fan blowing over an ice bag) since his custom air-conditioned dog house in Athens is too heavy for travel. Thankfully, Lucas Oil Stadium will offer bulldog-friendly conditions, with its roof closed and an expected temperature around 70 degrees.
After the clock runs out, Georgia may or may not emerge as the champion; Kirby Smart may or may not best Nick Saban. No one knows yet. But there is no doubt that Uga will get his post-game treat. “He just knows he’ll get a little leftover something like Chick-fil-A or Five Guys from the players’ food afterwards,” Seiler says. “That’s the highlight of the trip for him.”