I think it’s safe to say one of JMU’s best kept secrets is Duke Dog. Who is under the fur?? While I may not be able to tell you who plays Duke dog, I do have the inside scoop from a student under the crown! This Duke Dog has 3 years under his/her belt, which has led them on adventures from Harrisonburg to North Dakota, and all the way to Frisco, Texas. Here is your exclusive interview with Duke Dog:
Q: How did you get the position of being Duke Dog?
A: I saw the application for Duke Dog via a regular JMU Sports email. I was interested so I applied and sure enough, I was chosen to be Duke Dog and have been now for 3 years.
Q: What is it like being the Duke Dog?
A: Being Duke Dog is more difficult than people understand. Although we do not attend regular cheer practices, we practice our own routines (how to walk like Duke Dog, nonverbal communication). We partake in parades, football games, TV ads and it all demands different acting methods for Duke Dog. As for the suit itself, it gets more comfortable once you’ve worked with him enough.
Q: What is your best strategy for getting the crowds excited?
A: Fans like to think you’re singularly asking them to get excited, so pointing people out in a crowd works a lot. Most of the time, I use the atmosphere as well. When Bridgeforth is rumbling during a 3rd down, I like to throw my arms up and flex as the crowd shouts and cheers as I wave them on to get louder.
Q: What is your favorite thing about being Duke Dog?
A: Duke Dog subconsciously creates a spirited atmosphere around him. Every student I pass when I’m in the suit makes some sort of gesture to say hello! It’s a great feeling and it makes you realize just how iconic you are when you are portraying the symbol of your school.
Q: What is your favorite event to be a part of?
A: The National Championship, paws down. The crowd was fantastic and that is what we work with primarily. It was loud and it was proud, just the way we like it.
Q: Is it hard keeping the secret from the people around you?
A: It has been, yes. I will admit my family knows and my roommates, but luckily, it doesn’t come up in conversation really. I don’t worry too much about it.
Q: Do you plan on revealing who you are at graduation?
A: I will gladly reveal myself at graduation. I think the tradition of unveiling yourself is great because then people can say they knew one of us and had no idea. Being a part of such a small group of people for so long, doing as much for JMU as we do really becomes a realization once you graduate and take off the proverbial mask.
Q: What advice would you give to future Duke Dogs?
A: Take in what you can from those who have come before you. You will realize just how much Duke Dog can do and how big he really is once you’ve learned the ropes and attended a few events.
Check out your emails Dukes! You never know, you could be the next Duke Dog.