The past few months have seen ups and downs in the story of Georgetown’s mascot, culminating in the arrival of new mascot John B. Carroll to campus on Tuesday, Oct. 22. Janice Hochstetler, the bulldog breeder who donated both Jack Jr. and the new dog, sat down with The Hoya when she was at Georgetown to help the new mascot acclimate to campus this week. Below is an edited transcript.
What are you looking for during your visit with the new Jack?
I’m here to make sure that John B. Carroll acclimates well to his new surroundings here. With J.J., who is John B. Carroll’s three-fourths brother, Fr. Christopher Steck, S.J., actually drove out to my home in San Diego and picked up the dog, so I didn’t have a chance to see how J.J. reacted to the crowds of people. This way, with me flying over with John B. Carroll, I can observe how the Jack Crew handles him and give them tips on how to keep him calm. We’ve already been to many places on campus where there are lots of people moving around, and he has been great around them.
What were the problems J.J. had that led to his removal from campus this summer, and how have you tried to prevent them with John B. Carroll?
J.J. is actually a very well-mannered, calm puppy. He wasn’t used to being picked up by people for pictures and used as a plaything. The incident that happened with him was just a perfect storm, and no one could have predicted it. J.J. has a bit of an excitability issue, but not an aggression issue. Fr. Steck did a great job training him here, and I know that he’s still upset about what happened, but no one could have prevented it. However, we are making changes with John B. Carroll. I’m making sure that his walkers don’t use the high-pitched “cute doggy” voice or pet him too quickly, because that puts the bulldog on edge. Also, we are making sure that when people approach the dog, they don’t intimidate him by leaning over him or picking him up. John B. Carroll has been great to people who have come over and spoken with normal voices and have not made quick movements around him. Also, I don’t think that we’re going to have a huge welcoming ceremony for the new puppy like we did for J.J., because large amounts of people and cameras seemed to scare the dog.
The decision to remove J.J. from campus was made partly based on the assessment that the dog was better suited as a pet than a mascot. How will this distinction play out with John B. Carroll?
I think this puppy as the next mascot won’t necessarily be available to be seen just walking around campus as much as in the past. I know that a lot of students here love having him, and he will be present at all of the games and events, but the bulldog isn’t meant to be a cute photo prop. He’s got a job to do as a working dog. I’ve told the Jack Crew to act like bodyguards for a celebrity in order to prevent people from manhandling and frightening him.
How did you come to the decision to have John B. Carroll live in a townhouse instead of a dorm and be walked by a fewer number of students?
Dorm life can be crazy, and it’s not really the place for a puppy that would be overstimulated by all of that. With the townhouse, he gets some peace and quiet, his own little backyard to play around in and a better set-up overall. Paul [O’Neill (COL ’86), Georgetown’s chief operating officer for advancement and a member of the Bulldog Advisory Committee], not me, has actually been staying with him there, and soon, the new caretaker will move right in. We discussed that it is healthier for the dog to have consistent training. He has grown very attached to me, so it is better for his transition to have as few brand-new faces telling him what to do as possible, at least in the early stages.
What is something that the Georgetown community should know about our new mascot?
John B. Carroll is a really cute, good-natured puppy. He’s just 14 weeks old, but he behaved like a perfect gentleman on the plane ride over here. He loves riding his skateboard, though he can’t quite pedal it yet, and he really seems to like horses. I think that he will grow to love Georgetown.
What do you think that people should know about bulldogs in general?
Bulldogs were originally bred to bait or kill bulls, hence the name. Their entire bodies are built just for that purpose. Many people think of bulldogs as unintelligent and stubborn animals, but in truth, they are just not used to taking orders — they weren’t bred for that — so it takes a lot patience in order to properly train them. While training bulldogs, you find that they are quite intelligent, and since they aren’t frightened by people as much, they are actually great with kids.
Why did you decide to donate two mascots to Georgetown?
My kids loved their time at Georgetown, and since I figured that I can’t quite donate a new building, then I might as well contribute the best way I can, by helping the university continue with its bulldog tradition.