Meet Handsome Dan XIX
In dogged pursuit of greater joy for the members of its community, Yale University today announced the arrival in New Haven of the puppy who will assume the title and responsibilities of Handsome Dan XIX, the latest bulldog to serve as Yale’s famed live mascot.
“He’s only weeks old, and already he’s showing the spirited commitment to Yale embodied by his predecessors — not to mention a remarkable ability to bring delight to all whose paths he crosses,” said Yale President Peter Salovey, who first arrived at Yale as a psychology graduate student in 1981, during the tenure of Handsome Dan XII. “We’re lucky to have found a worthy and, indeed, handsome dog to carry on the legacy.”
A bulldog has represented Yale as mascot since at least 1890, and Handsome Dan is widely regarded as the first live animal collegiate mascot.
Like his predecessor, Handsome Dan XVIII, who has resettled in New York with his human companion, Kevin Discepolo ’09, the new puppy is an Olde English Bulldogge — a healthy, hardy breed that tends to live longer than the traditional English bulldog.
In fact, the puppy, born Jan. 2, is his predecessor’s nephew: Dan XVIII is a sibling of Dan XIX’s mother.
Kassandra “Kassie” Haro ’18 of the Yale Visitor Center staff will take on the duties of Dan handler. She’ll care for, train, and socialize him, coordinate and attend his public appearances, and manage his digital presence. She and Dan will be housemates in New Haven. And once the pandemic subsides and campus life resumes its customary rhythms and traditions, both will work out of the Visitor Center, across the street from the New Haven Green, a convenient place for walks.
“This is what I can only describe as a dream assignment,” said Haro, 25, who lived in Berkeley College as an undergraduate, majored in political science, participated in Naval ROTC, and served as a campus tour guide for the visitor center and the admissions office.
She identified the new puppy, one of the nine in his litter, as an ideal Dan because of his calm, curiosity, and receptiveness to petting and play. He was also the biggest and most muscular of his litter mates, said Haro, who grew up with dogs — chihuahuas, a mixed terrier, a Shar-Pei, and a Havanese — as well as cats, and also has experience minding goats.
“I’m an animal person,” she said.
“I am thrilled that Kassie is taking on this role,” said Yale Vice President for Communications Nate Nickerson, who oversees the Visitor Center as well as the greater Office of Public Affairs & Communications. “Kassie knows and loves dogs — and Yale. She will make Dan a very present, very loved part of the community.”
Like most collegiate mascots, Handsome Dan is closely associated with Yale’s athletic teams, and he will be an enthusiastic, vocal, and highly visible supporter of Yale Athletics, even as Haro seeks to diversify and expand the mascot’s activities.
“We are so excited for everyone to meet Handsome Dan XIX,” said Victoria M. “Vicky” Chun, the Thomas A. Beckett Director of Athletics. “We are honored to have been the first university to adopt a live mascot, some 130 years ago, and this is one of my favorite traditions at Yale. Come cheer on our student-athletes with a very handsome pup at our athletics events. Bow Wow Wow!”
When public health conditions permit, Haro said, Dan XIX will confer with his immediate predecessor, who moved to the Big Apple after Discepolo took a new job there.
For details about Handsome Dan XIX’s first public appearance, expected to take place in the digital realm, keep an eye on his social media accounts: