COLLEGE STATION, TX — Attention Aggieland!
A new addition to the family is on its way and we're not talking about freshmen here.
On Feb 5., Texas A&M University handed the leash over to the 18-month-old collie, destined, to serve as the regal, and beloved symbol of the campus.
Initiated in a private hand-off ceremony, she will spend the spring semester shadowing Reveille IX; the likes of whom is now completing her sixth year in the role.
Mascot candidate Reveille X will finally begin in May, after what had been, over an entire year, of searching, and training, the perfect match.
Brig. Gen. Joe E. Ramirez, Jr., commandant of the Corps of Cadets, had the following to share:
“Reveille is the First Lady of Aggieland. You think of A&M, and you think of Reveille,” Ramirez said. “She represents pride and tradition and all of the things we hold sacred here.”
Indeed, while Reveille IX may be retiring, this isn't to say she's in bad health; beginning the process early, officials wanted to initiate the search while she was still able to relinquish her title with grace.
So what exactly are the requirements to be Reveille?
First things first, it's all about the look: an American Rough Coat Collie with sable-and-white fur.
Then, there's the personality department... calm yet extroverted, focused but adaptable to any situation.
According to Dr. Stacy Eckman, a clinical associate professor, and chief medical officer for the Small Animal Hospital, A&M searched across breeders, and rescue groups, to find a "young adult" dog with all these skills.
Narrowing it down to two finalists, Dr. Eckman and other members of the committee, including former Reveille handlers, flew to Kansas and Ohio to meet the potential mascot candidates.
At the end of the day though, just as in life, it all came down to the personality department. Asking things like, 'was she overly excited when meeting people? and, 'could she handle working with large crowds inside packed stadiums one day in the nearer future?'
That's when they came across Reveille X, of Juelle Collies in Topeka, Kansas - the exact same breeder that actually donated Reveille VII - fitting, of all these requirements.
“Her personality was just so lively,” said Miller, who in the spring of 2018 became the Corps of Cadets’ first woman to serve as Reveille’s handler.
“She was excited to see us, but not overly excited. She clearly had really good manners and was able to follow all of the commands and tasks we asked of her. She has a great personality, and was friendly to anybody she met.” Miller added.
In addition to being the highest-ranking member of the Corps of Cadets, Reveille goes to class with her handler, attends football games, and even makes appearances at numerous on- and off-campus charitable and A&M promotional events.
“We need to give the candidate time to acclimate, to get used to campus, the number of people she will be exposed to on a daily basis, to living in the dorms, and the demands of the schedule that will come with her being Reveille X,” Miller added.
Ray, last year’s mascot handler, will largely be responsible for working with the candidate during her training. During this time, he said, Aggies should be mindful that Reveille IX is still the 'top dog'.
“Feel free to come up, and give a warm ‘Howdy’, and introduce yourself to our new mascot-in-training, but just understand that Reveille IX is still our queen through the semester,” Ray shared.
Finally, when her reign officially ends after Final Review this spring, Reveille IX will move to the Stevenson Companion Animal Life-Care Center operated by the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, where she’ll live out a comfortable retirement. Reveille IX will celebrate her eighth birthday on Nov. 22.
Formerly known as Twix, Reveille IX was donated to Texas A&M at 16 months old in May 2015 by Overland Collies, a kennel based in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Ramirez said Reveille IX settled into her role as the First Lady of Aggieland “extremely well.”
“My favorite thing is, she comes in my office quite often with the cadets, and every time she comes in she jumps up on my couch,” Ramirez said. “Nobody else gets to sit on that couch but Reveille. That’s her couch and she knows it.”
Sharing one last note, Reveille IX’s current and final handler, Batie Bishop ’23 had the following to share:
“She’s the soul. No matter what happens, Reveille is always going to be here for this university representing the student body.”