Live Mascot: Tuffy the Tamaskan

Andy Walsh recalls the challenges and triumphs of bringing a live mascot back to NC State.

Interview on 2014-06-06


00:00:00.000 Tuffy was an up and down process. I'll never forget my first big meeting with an administrator on campus was with Provost [Warwick] Arden,
00:00:08.733 and I went and met with him after meeting with some individuals in the vet school and doing my research. I'd found that you can't vaccinate a wolf in North Carolina, it's against the law, or any wolf blood.
00:00:26.899 It can't be a hybrid or anything like that. So I do more research and I find a dog that is new to the United States that is bred to look exactly like a wolf called a Tamaskan,
00:00:36.243 and in fact there's a couple of breeders in North Carolina and one that's certified and I started communicating with him to see what it would be like to bring one of these here, what the best conditions were.
00:00:46.760 I went over to the vet school and talked to those folks and they kind of gave their blessing. They said as long as a family was overseeing it, or something along those lines, where the dog was getting the proper care and had the proper training,
00:00:59.921 it seemed like it would be an okay idea, and Athletics deferred to the administration.
00:01:05.712 So I went up to Provost Arden's office, ready, had my casebook ready to make my argument, had a bill that had passed through the student senate supporting it, with actually some opposition from some of the vet groups on campus.
00:01:24.078 The PETA organization was kind of against it and we kind of had to work through that. Went up to Provost Arden's office, and because he was the former dean of the vet school I thought: We got this in the bag.
00:01:38.834 I think this is going to happen immediately. He looked at me and he was like, "So you want me to approve a living mascot, a wolf, on campus, like Bucky Badger at Wisconsin?" I was like, "Uh, well, I think it's a good idea,"
00:01:53.663 and he said, "I don't know. I don't think that this is something I really want to be a part of." So I walked out of there and I was like I don't really know how that went. Did I successfully get something, or did I not?
00:02:05.497 Around that same time Debbie Yow was hired as our athletic director and she heard about the idea, embraced it, and we made it happen.
00:02:30.316 So it was my first successful bill, my first successful project, and something that got students talking. I mean there were tons of articles about it and they talked about it in the press around here, sports radio stations were talking about it,
00:02:39.301 and I thought if this gets the community excited I did something that was worth my time. Tuffy is still roaming the sidelines now and every time I see him it's just a little bit of pride for me because it was my first project.