Monday, July 20, 2009

Jonathan XIII & Christie Jackman and Kristy Bassilakis

Who is in the photo at right?

In the first picture [at right] you see me, Christie Jackman, with Jonathan XIII. And in the second picture [just below at left] you see Kristy Bassilakis with Jonathan XIII.

Kristy and I are Co-Chairs of the Alpha Phi Omega Husky Committee from the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Connecticut (UConn). Our job is to look after the UConn mascot, Jonathan XIII. Jonathan is a pure-bred male Siberian Husky and is about 2 years old. He is all white with beautiful, bright blue eyes. Jonathan is a very loving dog and enjoys all of the attention he receives daily!

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

There’s no need for a special occasion to hang out with Jonathan! Jonathan loves to spend time with all of the people who love him and care for him, because there are many! I always wonder how he feels about being a well-known dog; he must think it’s normal to get so much attention from everyone at UConn. But then again who wouldn’t want to love him, he’s an adorable and energetic canine!

What's brewing?

I gotta say I’m in love with Dunkin Donuts hazelnut iced coffee, no matter what time of the year. A nice regular coffee with some cream and sugar every once in a while doesn’t hurt either!

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

A chocolate chip scone is my favorite snack to go along with my coffee! Although I really love any kind of breakfast-type snack.

Any treat for Jonathan XIII on this occasion?

Jonathan loves any sort of treat they sell at the pet stores, especially the ones that are meat flavored! He stays on an all organic diet. He also enjoys spending his time chewing on empty milk jugs.

What's the story of the vest that Jonathan is wearing in most of his pictures?

That is his official event vest which he must wear to all of his events. It has the name of our fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, embroidered on it and it also has his sponsors advertised on it as well. Jonathan XIII is sponsored by his breeder Northern Manor in Pennsylvania, Pets Plus in North Windham, CT, All Creatures Vet in Coventry, CT, and Paws Pet Resort and Spa in Cheshire, CT. You can probably tell he’s always loved and well taken care of!

Please tell us about Alpha Phi Omega Delta Sigma.

Alpha Phi Omega Delta Sigma is a co-ed service fraternity at the University of Connecticut Storrs campus. Members of Alpha Phi Omega are required to do 20+ hours of community service every semester. We are a fairly large and growing organization and consider ourselves one loving family! We take part in service programs that benefit the campus, the community, and the nation.

How did Jonathan XIII get his name?

Jonathan XIII is named after Jonathan Trumble, a Revolutionary War general. The student body voted on the name when they first decided to get a mascot.

Have Jonathans I-XIII always been male?

Yes, the Jonathan dogs have always been male. Most of the Jonathans have been virtually similar, except for Jonathan I who was black and white.

When I hear "UConn husky" I think "Yukon husky." Have you ever introduced Jonathan XIII as the UConn husky and gotten a response like, "He doesn't look Canadian, eh?"

Haha, so far I haven’t gotten any questions like that! Although it’s funny that sometimes people don’t put two and two together and they wonder why we have a dog at the sporting events. But sometimes when people aren’t familiar with UConn I have gotten questions about Yukon, Canada and why I would want to go all the way there to attend school.

How often does Jonathan make public appearances? Does he go to all the basketball games? Poetry readings on campus?

Jonathan makes public appearances at least once a week, if not more. The members of Alpha Phi Omega walk him daily and also escort him to home sporting events and special events on campus, such as parades. He loves to attend the men’s and women’s basketball games at Gampel Pavilion (on campus) and the football games at Rentschler Field in Hartford, Connecticut and he always brings a sense of school spirit along with him.

Does he ever travel with UConn groups?

Jonathan has never had the chance to travel with anyone except for Husky Committee members, but never far from campus. Maybe once he gets a bit older he will be able to!

What's a normal day like for Jonathan?

Well, Jonathan lives with a loving host family that is not affiliated with UConn, so he spends most his days there. When school is in session, Jonathan is taken out by members of the Husky Committee for about an hour every weekday to be walked around and trained. Sometimes he gets to walk around campus and say hello to fellow students and other times he just walks around the surrounding neighborhoods. And on days that he has events, he usually stays out longer to greet all of his friends! He loves all of the attention and he will do anything for a treat!

Does Jonathan have other canine friends? Do you ever do socials with the Yale bulldog? Has Jonathan ever met the Washington husky?

Jonathan doesn’t have many other canine friends, although he always has friendly encounters with other canines on campus. He’s never met the Washington husky or the Yale bulldog, but that’s a great idea for events in the future!

What’s Jonathan's most embarrassing moment?

The most embarrassing moment I have experienced with Jonathan was during a women’s basketball game at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, CT. As you might imagine, being in a stadium with thousands of people can get overwhelming for a dog. Jonathan got a little too excited and started barking very loudly. The other handler and I quickly took him outside to calm down. Upon reentering Gampel, we were swarmed with security personal asking what had happened and making sure everything was taken care of. It was quite a scene.

About Christie Jackman:

I’m from Ridgefield, Connecticut and am entering my junior year at the University of Connecticut. I am in the School of Engineering and the School of Business and my major is Management and Engineering for Manufacturing. I pledged Alpha Phi Omega Delta Sigma in the spring of 2008 and am one of the chairs of the Husky Committee. I love having this position because I love Jonathan and it’s nice to feel like I have a pet at school!

About Kristy Bassilakis:

I’m a junior at the University of Connecticut majoring in Human Development and Family Studies. I am from Glastonbury, Connecticut. I also pledged Alpha Phi Omega in the spring of 2008 and have been Husky Co-Chair since the fall of 2008. I have loved every moment I’ve served as this position and will miss it since unfortunately this upcoming semester will be my last.

--Marshal Zeringue