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University News
Who’s Top Dog on the Hilltop?
Jack Crew Recruits Learn How to Handle Hoya Mascot
"It’s Jack! It’s Jack!” -- a familiar refrain heard around campus as Georgetown’s beloved mascot strolls the sidewalks and lawns.

As the university’s top dog, Jack the Bulldog trots about the Hilltop daily, often stopping to take a refreshing dip in the pond outside White-Gravenor Hall or to sit on a bench and gaze at passersby.

But the mascot spends the majority of his days in the lobby of Wolfington Hall, the Jesuit residence. There, he has access to a kennel for privacy, a box full of toys and a fluffy bed.

Given that Jack loves to lounge around and sleep, people can often find him sprawled out commando-style, napping on the cool marble floor. He also enjoys a steady stream of visitors who endear themselves to Jack by scratching the wrinkle above his nose.

As a dog of the people, Jack likes interacting with the Georgetown community, says the Rev. Christopher Steck, S.J., who has taken care of Jack since the dog’s 2003 arrival at the Hilltop. Jack enjoys riding in golf carts, Steck says, and often tries to jump into them as they pass by on campus. He also joins, uninvited, in on games of Frisbee on Copley Lawn and loves splashing in campus fountains to cool off. Sometimes, you might find him hiding in ivy waiting to jump out and startle people.

Steck likes the idea that Jack is a prominent fixture around the Hilltop -- a dog truly belonging to the entire university. Jack even has a Facebook page with more than 200 Georgetown friends. It may sound like a tranquil existence for the English bulldog, Steck says, but creating this life of leisure is anything but simple. That’s where the Jack Crew comes in.

The Jack Crew consists of a group of students selected on the basis of their Hoya spirit and ability to coax cooperation from a willful dog. The members are responsible for Jack’s daily schedule.

Walid Khalifeh (SFS’09), head of the 20-strong Jack Crew, keeps the pooch’s schedule on track.

Khalifeh says Jack can often be in high demand for a myriad of Georgetown events, appearing at everything from basketball games at the Verizon Center to the annual Georgetown Day. Khalifeh also receives numerous requests for personal appearances – including one request that Jack be present while an alumnus proposed to his girlfriend.

Becoming Part of the Crew

Coveted spots on the Jack Crew go to students who have proven their love of Georgetown and its beloved mascot by individually singing the Georgetown Fight Song, attending the university for at least one semester before joining and being involved with campus spirit groups.

“People who volunteer for the Jack Crew tend to be those most faithful to Georgetown and love the university,” says Steck, an associate professor of theology. “And I’ve found those who are most dedicated to Georgetown are more likely to take care of Jack very well.”

During a recent training session for the Jack Crew, Katrina Quirolgico (SFS’09) kneeled down in front of Jack and put four fingers into his mouth. The canine just sat there, expectantly waiting for the treat he knew she had for him. The exercise, part of the Jack Crew training, served as a test to ensure that the dog walkers were comfortable reaching into Jack’s mouth in case he picks up something he shouldn’t or has breathing troubles that are common to bulldogs.

The student from Georgetown’s Qatar campus will be completing her study-abroad program at the Main Campus after the summer, but she said walking Jack is something that she’s wanted to do since arriving on the Hilltop last August.

“We always hear about Jack and school spirit (in Qatar). The faculty is always saying, ‘If you don’t love Jack, you don’t love Georgetown.’ But we’re detached from him,” Quirolgico explained. “This is a way for me to get the full experience.”

As training continued, Steck and Khalifeh focused on outlining the ins and outs of caring for Jack to the six newest recruits, including Quirolgico.

“If it’s hotter than 80 degrees out, Jack needs water. He has his own bottle, but you don’t need to worry about bringing a bowl,” Steck said as Jack slurped directly from the bottle.

Steck even showed off Jack’s ability to jump in the air to kiss walkers on the cheek, all for a treat, of course.

Suddenly, a brown box flew across the room, followed immediately by a brown streak as Jack slid across the floor to “attack” one of his favorite objects. As Jack happily snarled and ripped apart the box that his caretaker threw to him, Steck reminded the crew that bulldogs are quick to tire. As if on cue, Jack finished disassembling the box, laid out flat on the floor and began to lightly snore.

Steck then explained some of Jack’s personality peculiarities. He noted that people with funny hats aren’t Jack’s thing, the flapping sounds of flags on Copley Lawn annoy him as do the and cars parked in front of the New South residence hall, where Jack lives with Steck. These are all things the new dog walkers need to keep in mind as they get to know Jack and accompany him on his daily strolls, he said.

Bulldog idiosyncrasies aside, Shane Hoon (G’08) says he is looking forward to getting his time with Jack. A recent graduate of the communication, culture and technology master’s program, Hoon heard from a professor and Jack fan that the walking crew needed summer volunteers.

“I love dogs and I’m around for the summer, so I figured this would be a great way to spend some time with Jack and be outside,” Hoon said. “I always see him out and about on campus, and I’d like to be part of that.”

Source: Office of Communications (July 3, 2008)

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'People who volunteer for the Jack Crew tend to be those most faithful to Georgetown and love the university. And I’ve found those who are most dedicated to Georgetown are more likely to take care of Jack very well.' -- the Rev. Christopher Steck, S.J.

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