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JOESAM2002 09-20-2003 08:50 AM

Gumbo on DL......

Saints' mascot 'Gumbo' on disabled list

Saturday September 20, 2003

By Tara Young
Staff writer

Last Sunday, diehard fans might have noticed the New Orleans Saints' beloved pooch was missing in action from the Superdome.

But what many might not have known is that the Saint Bernard known as "Gumbo" fell ill just before last Sunday's win against Houston.

"His mouth turned blue. He threw up and fainted," said Marie Marcal, recalling Sunday's close call involving Dakota, the 170-pound dog's real name. "I thought the poor thing was dead."

The 5-year-old pooch wasn't dead, just in desperate need of a laryngectomy, Marcal said.

On Thursday, a local veterinarian performed the surgery to open a collapsed airway.

"He's been kind of sounding like he had asthma," Marcal said. The condition is common among larger dogs, she said.

The dog is expected to make a full recovery, Marcal said.

The Saint Bernard was introduced as a mascot to football fans in the late 1960s, but in the mid-70s a decision was made to go with a costumed version of the saintly pooch. But fans never really took to the costumed dog the way they did to a real-life, tail-wagging Gumbo, said Barra Birrcher, entertainment director for the Saints.

So the decision was made to bring Gumbo back. Last year, Dakota was the right dog for the job, Birrcher said.

"We loved the look of the dog," Birrcher said. "He's just so big. I don't know how they (the owners) handle him."

During home games, a special stage is set up just for Dakota. He sits with his owners and meets and greets fans, taking pictures and pawing around, Birrcher said.

"He seems to enjoy the people," Birrcher said. "He's a real people-friendly dog."

The next home game is Sept. 28 against Indianapolis. There's no word on whether Dakota will be there or remain out on sick leave, Birrcher said.

rusta 09-20-2003 11:28 AM

Gumbo on DL......
get rid of the dumba$$ dog and get the RAT in there!!!!!!!!!!! :P :P :P

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