By Argen Duncan: PNT senior writer
Eastern New Mexico University is going to the dogs, and not in a bad way.
The school is getting a pair of retired racing greyhounds to serve as official mascots.
The greyhounds will begin appearing at university and community events starting early next year.
A committee of student leaders and employees has approved ENMU to adopt two greyhounds, a male and a female, from New Mexico Greyhound Connection, a rescue organization that finds homes for retired racing dogs.
Pre-Vet Club adviser Darron Smith said he learned Monday that New Mexico Greyhound Connection found a 3-year-old black female with a white chest for the university. The search for an appropriate male is under way, he said.
The dogs are expected to arrive on campus in December. They will make their debut in January, Smith said.
The Pre-Vet Club will care for the dogs during the school year.
“We think that it’s a great opportunity for our school to have live mascots,” said senior and Pre-Vet Club President Amanda Crockett. “We’re excited, and everyone we talk to is excited about it.”
“We’re being very, very selective on the personality of the dogs,” Smith said.
The animals must be good with people, and their student handlers are expected to be trained to work with them in crowds. Smith said people will be allowed to interact with them.
Both dogs will be neutered, he said.
Smith said the greyhounds will live in the new Agriculture Building during the school year. When the university isn’t in session, they will stay with families who have passed a screening process.
Starting Friday, the university is accepting suggestions for naming the dogs, according to an ENMU news release.
After a committee picks the top three to five names, anyone can vote for the final choices by giving donations for the dogs’ upkeep. The dogs get the names that bring in the most money, according to the release.
University President Steven Gamble said he was glad to see the mascots come.
“We have a lot of school spirit at Eastern, but I think this will just add to it,” he said.
ENMU alumnus and Director of Publications Janice Morrow started the move to get the greyhounds. She said she thought of other universities with live mascots.
“And people appreciate the tradition and have a little more interest in the university if they can relate to an animal,” she said.
Morrow liked the idea of rescue dogs because ENMU could help spread the message about them.
With the dogs receiving the best food and care, Smith estimated it would cost around $2,000 a year to take care of them. However, he expects a special endowment will provide the money so it won’t detract from education.
The ENMU Foundation has donated $1,000 for the dogs, and the ENMU Bench Club has contributed $2,000, according to the news release.
To submit name suggestions: firstname.lastname@example.org or www.enmu.edu