Meeting my latest crush

My infatuation started over the summer. Since they were new to the Southeastern Conference, I was researching fun facts about Texas A&M for the Ole Miss football issue of the magazine where I work in Oxford. That was the first time I read about her.

Sonia Thompson

Miss Reveille poses with her handlers, Texas A&M students Daylon Koster, left, and John Hazel before the Ole Miss game.

I emailed my husband immediately.

"Did you know that the Texas A&M mascot, a collie named Reveille, is the highest-ranking member of the Corps of Cadets?" I wrote. "And as such, if she is sleeping on a cadet's bed, that cadet must sleep on the floor? Cadets address Reveille as "Miss Rev, ma'am." If she is in class and barks while the professor is teaching, the class is to be immediately dismissed."

Then I saw her picture and I was smitten. Which was weird. I'm not a dog person. We never had one growing up, and truthfully, I'm kind of scared of dogs. But Miss Rev looked like Lassie. How could you be afraid of Lassie? And she was so fluffy. I wanted to pet her. I wanted us to be friends.

I was quickly developing a girl crush. So I did what everyone with a crush does: I Internet stalked her. I found some YouTube videos, my favorite was "A Day at the Spa With Reveille," which shows the current Rev (Reville VIII) and Rev VII at Wiggles & Wags getting a wash, blow out and pedicure. And I, um, found photos of her on Facebook, too. There was Rev on a boat, wearing sunglasses and a life vest; Rev in a yellow rain slicker; hanging in the student union; in a field of Texas bluebonnets; flying on the university plane with Coach Sumlin (Rev is never, ever crated or kenneled. She flies private or rides the bus with the cadets).

I emailed A&M's football office to see if Rev would be coming to Oxford for the Oct. 6 Ole Miss game.

The A&M guy who wrote back said: "I'm waiting on official response, but in the meantime you may want to email Miss Rev herself. Her email is Really."

I emailed. Nothing. Like all high-ranking officials, she was proving hard to reach. I worked a few more angles. Then, her handler, A&M sophomore Daylon Koster replied. Her schedule was pretty full, he told me, and he couldn't guarantee she would be able to meet up. I felt like that silly high school girl who asks Luke Perry to prom. Finally, I connected with Sherylon Carroll, Rev's communications person. We got to chatting and unprompted, Carroll began to gush. It made me feel less silly.

"She's very sweet and mild tempered," Carroll said. "You find yourself kind of wanting to rub her. I think it's because her coat is so beautiful. You're like Rev, you're living large!"

We worked it out that I would meet Rev in Batesville, Miss., about 30 miles west of Oxford. She would be there with the A&M band, which was stopping to squeeze in a pregame practice on the South Panola High School football field.

Sonia Thompson

Sonia Thompson, feeling nervous and ridiculous, sits in the parking lot waiting on Reveille to arrive replete with her 12-bus entourage of the Texas A&M band.

I sat in parking lot, waiting on Rev to arrive. I was 45 minutes early. I went back and forth between feeling ridiculous that I had driven half an hour to meet a dog and excited/nervous. I imagined us in slow motion, running around, playing fetch with the squeaky football toy I'd brought as a gift.

Finally, 12(!) tour buses with smoked out windows rolled up. Rev had an entourage. I got a text that she was on bus No. 11. I felt like a groupie, but got on anyway. There she was, sitting a few rows back on the left. Like most celebrities, she was smaller in real life than I expected. She sort of half acknowledged me and went back to looking out the window. It was raining and she didn't want to mess up her hair, so we did the interview on the bus. Her handler, Koster, did most of the talking.

I learned her favorite pastime, besides sleeping, is chasing squirrels. I found out she's a picky eater.

"She's actually taken a treat and put it down on the ground in front of me and turned her nose away," Koster said.

I learned she lives in the dorms with Koster and the rest of the Company E2, and goes to class with them. She summered with Koster at his parent's house near Austin. They're together all the time.

"If we go on a date, we take her along as well," Koster said. "If we go out to eat, she goes with us."

We talked a little more, and then Rev barked. She was bored with the media. Class dismissed.

I thanked Koster, and Rev allowed me to pat her nose goodbye.

That night at the game, I watched as Reveille led the team on to the field. She sprinted out, her colors flying, her coat extra fluffy. Like all A-listers, she knew how to work a crowd. I wondered how many people developed crushes on a collie that night.