Dogs go away. There is no changing this fact. It is always there, and every pet owner must eventually come to terms with it. Long before you pass, your once-tireless puppy will slow down. It happens slowly, like a montage from a bad movie, and then all at once. The old girl won't run up the stairs quite as fast as she used to. Once-routine games of fetch become teary tribute shows.
A decade's got behind you, as the old song goes, and the eventuality that lived in the back of your head from the first moment you brought your buddy home and got her to sleep on that first sleepless, yelping night -- the thing you never really wanted to admit to yourself, even though you always knew -- has arrived. Your friend will go away soon. Plans must be made.
Pet owners of all stripes think about this a lot -- so much so, I'd wager, that we actively avoid it when the pet is anyone else's. The same holds true for mascots. To fans, mascots aren't pets; they're eternal symbols of school pride. Symbols don't have to go away. Symbols are distant, immortal. Symbols don't say goodbye.
In the past few years, thanks to Butler's back-to-back Final Four appearances and some savvy social media presence, Butler Blue II became the most prominent mascot in college basketball -- the most recognizable symbol, save its head coach, of a small Indianapolis school's storybook rise to fame.
But Blue II went away too, Butler announced Tuesday, the result of congestive heart failure weeks in the making. Even at the end, he and Michael Kaltenmark were friendly and endearing and fun, and that might be the best testament to Butler Blue II that I can think of -- the reason why news of the little guy's passing hit the Internet (and yours truly) as hard as it did this afternoon.
Blue II never felt like a mascot. He felt like a pet, like Butler's pet, like college basketball's pet, only with a tiny Nike sweater and a courtside seat. He wasn't a symbol. He was a real dog.
It only feels fitting, then, to offer a real goodbye. So, goodbye, Blue II. Rest in peace, little buddy. You were a really awesome dog, and you'll be missed. And if you'll excuse me, it seems my house in in need of a thorough dusting.