Dog days of Saluki mascots worthwhile

By Symone Woolridge

Giving hugs and high-fives while mingling with kids on the courts of the arena, or grass of the stadium—the SIU dawgs play a phenomenal role in Saluki sports.

The Grey Dawg and the Brown Dawg produce school spirit for everyone’s enjoyment. On game days, they come out hours early preparing for show time at Saluki Stadium, Davies Gym or SIU Arena.

Because there are dozens of Saluki athletic programs and plenty more sports clubs, there are not enough Dawgs or time to make it to every event. The Grey and Brown Dawg are only in attendance at basketball, football and volleyball games unless they are specially requested.


Dating back to 7000 B.C., Saluki dogs are known for hunting and sprinting 40 miles per hour or more, with their feet barely touching the ground. According to Saluki Athletics, the Egyptian dogs are the oldest known breeds of domesticated dogs and known for being the finest animals a family can possess.

SIU was formally known as the Maroons, until members of the athletic staff adopted the Saluki name more than 50 years ago, making its label more imaginative. As of 2009, the Salukis introduced a new look for the Grey and Brown Dawgs, which are still in use today.

Although you may only see one Grey Dawg out on the field or court, there are two different Salukis who rotate between events; one a sophomore, the other a senior.

Sophomore Grey Dawg said the best part of appearing at SIU events is seeing the excitement of the children in attendance.

“It’s really fun to see kids get really excited and want to take pictures with you and shake your hand,” sophomore Grey Dawg said. “It’s just great to interact with them.”

The kids love the fact that they can play and enjoy themselves with the Saluki Dawgs. Megan Fleege, 7, said she dances and hugs the Dawgs at the football and basketball games. She said she likes both of the Dawgs, but is a bigger fan of Brown Dawg.

“I like him because he’s cute and he’s funny,” Fleece said. “He always gives me high-fives too.”


The Brown Dawg is said to be more feminine, while the Grey Dawg is slightly masculine. The Brown Dawg said kids are more receptive because he does not produce such a scary look.

Senior Grey Dawg is used to wearing mascot suits and entertaining the fans. As a former Disney character, the senior Grey Dawg has always enjoyed being a crowd pleaser. He said the mascot life is something to get accustomed to. Although he gets lots of applauses and salutes in the suit, those gestures suddenly change once the games are over.

“It’s a weird feeling once you take off the suit and no one wants to take your picture, or run up to you to say hi,” senior Grey Dawg said. “When you have on the suit, every time you look around somebody is looking at you, but once you take it off you don’t get the same attention.”

Senior Grey Dawg said his personality remains the same in and outside of the mascot suit. He portrays a bubbly, friendly Saluki who enjoys games and family fun.

“Being around everyone that’s so energetic and cheering you on is great,” senior Grey Dawg said. “It’s like being two different people and that’s so fun to do.”

Sophomore Grey Dawg is not quite the same.

Sophomore Grey Dawg said his personality changes drastically. You would never guess they were the same people on and off of the courts and fields.

“I’m like a whole different person,” sophomore Grey Dawg said. “I’m more of a stoic person, but inside the suit I’m really energetic and fun.”

Although you may see the Dawgs out and about conversing with families on a hot and sunny day, the Saluki mascots are one of the few in the conference that do not make appearances in inclement weather.

The weather plays a factor in the amount of perspiration they give off under the thick heavy suit, or how much water they may need on a steamy hot game day.

“There are not many dislikes that I have as a mascot,” senior Grey Dawg said. “The only downside to it is getting really hot and sweaty underneath.”

Pumping up the large crowd and greeting fans with smiles in pictures, the Saluki Dawgs said the kids and the crowds are the best part of the job. They try to mingle with as many people as possible, expanding their Saluki fan base.

Although the kids may be the ones jumping up and down at the games, running around looking for the Saluki Dawgs, they are not the only ones who find the Dawgs enjoyable.

SIU alumni Jeff and Carrie Miller have been together 17 years, beginning their love story at SIU. Jeff Miller, a former SIU offensive lineman, said he and his wife have chosen to reside in Carbondale, where they attend every tailgate and football game.

The Millers have a 1972 recreational vehicle trailer with over 100 signatures from tailgate attendees and fans; this includes signatures from Chancellor Rita Cheng and football head coach Dale Lennon. The RV has a reserved spot where it sits before every game. It also includes photos of the Grey and Brown Dawg on the right side of the vehicle.

“We love the mascots, that’s why we have so many pictures of them,” the Millers said. “The Grey Dawg is actually a friend of ours on Facebook.”

SIU women’s club rugby coach Apryl Gordon said she thinks the Dawgs are a lot of fun and great entertainment as well.

“Without them I think we would be missing something,” Gordon said. “Other schools have big mascots, but they only have one of them, so it’s kind of fun that we have two.”

While some Saluki fans, athletes, students and staff do not think about the day in the life of the Saluki Dawgs, The Grey Dawg and Brown Dawg play a huge role in the Saluki name and represent SIU athletes, students and the university.

The Grey Dawg will be in attendance of the first women’s basketball game of the season Friday against Maryville University at SIU Arena.