Centuries ago, ancestors of the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog sat at the feet of Roman citizens. But they didn't stay.
Instead, multiple accounts describe the dog's arrival in Switzerland, where, according to the American Kennel Club, the breed was used "as a herding dog, guard dog and utilitarian draft dog." None of which was immediately apparent when George, a 2-year-old Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, padded through Alderman Library during a spring visit.
Judges at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show took note this year, awarding George "Best in Breed." It's one of several national recognitions he has received. And recognition runs in the family; George's mother was also a champion show dog.
George is visible around Grounds. Kechner and Comer coach the UVA women's rugby team, and George regularly runs with team members. He also dwarfs a few other famous UVA pooches, Beta and Seal, smaller mutts that spent their days at the University between the 1920s and 1950s. While no dogs since Beta and Seal have been honored as mascots, George might make for a strong contender.