If you're an avid fan of college sports, you've probably at some point watched a game involving Georgetown University of Washington, D.C. If the institution's mascot caught your attention, then you saw the hoya dog, known commonly as Jack the Bulldog. "Hoya," which long ago was adopted as the university's official team moniker, is an ancient Greek word that translates, roughly, to "what." However, this connection has caused many to believe that a hoya is a type of bulldog, which is incorrect. Read on to find out more.
What is a Hoya?
The word "what" might sound like a bizarre nickname for a student body, and its original context is rather muddy and poorly understood. The Hoyas are named after an encouraging slogan that was coined by a pupil years ago -- "Hoya saxa." These two words, when placed together, are a combination of the ancient Greek "what" and the Latin word for "rocks." The rocks reference, could be related to a team that existed years ago at the school -- the Stonewalls. "Hoya saxa," to this day, is the school's formal college yell.
The relationship between Georgetown University and the canine world is a strong one. For decades, dogs have been a strong presence on the campus, whether functioning as guards or as purely loving companions. One day in 1962, however, the link between the school and dogs was solidified. This was when they selected their official Hoya dog mascot, Jack the English Bulldog, who still holds the prestigious position. A couple of prominent students at the university were the driving forces behind Jack's selection, stating that the members of the school, similarly to English bulldogs, were persistent and determined.
The English bulldog that became the mascot for the university was named Royal Jacket. For a short while, admiring people attempted to refer to the pooch by the name Hoya, as an affectionate nod to the school spirit. The little guy never reacted or took to the new moniker, however, and so he remained Jack from then on.
Other Canine Mascots
Although the English bulldog's presence has been going strong at Georgetown University for decades and decades, the school had a couple of other canine superstars in the beginning of the 20th century. Most of the school's mascot duties were performed by Boston bull terriers. In one instance, however, the mascot was a great Dane by the name of Butch.
About Bulldogs as a Breed
Although bulldogs throughout history were employed in the intense arena of bull baiting, they are presently often kept in households as laid-back, loving and sweet-natured pets. These sturdy mid-sized doggies hail from England and are hard to forget due to their crinkled visages and conspicuously flat snouts. They typically weigh between 40 and 50 pounds and have life expectancies of 8 to 10 years. Bulldog coats come in a variety of colors, which include red, white, yellowish-white and brownish.
By Naomi Millburn
Georgetown University Traditions: History of GU Dogs
Georgetown Alumni Online: What's a Hoya?
Education Portal: What is a Hoya?
Georgetown University: Jack the Bulldog
American Kennel Club: Bulldog Page
The Westminster Kennel Club: Bulldog
About the Author
Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.