November 12, 2023 

Butler Blue IV, Butler’s mascot, goes on injured list

Inside the canine's ruff road to recovery

On a typical game day for the Butler University women’s basketball team, mascot Butler Blue IV would greet the starting lineup for head scratches before tip-off. Unfortunately, Blue will be absent for the team’s home opener on Sunday, as he’s on canine medical leave.

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Here’s what we know about Blue’s role with the team, his injury and his dogged recovery process.

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Blue’s job description

Evan Krauss, Butler’s assistant director of digital content and Blue’s handler, explained the bulldog’s many jobs on and around campus. “Blue represents the entirety of the campus community, not just our athletic teams,” Krauss told The Next. “So that can mean anything from going to ceremonies for our pharmacy students when they receive their white coats. It can be him attending rehearsals for our student production of ‘The Nutcracker.’ It can be attending local elementary schools to read his children’s book, ‘Good Boy, Blue.'”

“He goes to every home men’s basketball game and usually about half of the women’s games.” Krauss continued. “He runs the basketball teams out from the locker room onto the court for their final warm-ups … and then at the end of starting lineups, he runs on a loose leash across the entirety of the court to a giant rawhide bone that’s waiting for him. Last year, we added his newest party trick: He rides around in a children’s remote-controlled Ford Mustang convertible.”

Blue, the bulldog mascot of Butler University, rides in a remote-controlled white Ford Mustang on the basketball court.
Blue, the Butler University mascot, rides his Ford Mustang across the court during a men’s basketball game at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind., on Oct. 29, 2022. (Photo credit: Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire)

Adding Blue to the injured list

Blue tore his CCL, or cranial cruciate ligament, in his stifle, which is the canine term for the knee. This is a comparable injury to the ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, in human knees. This ligament is found in dogs’ rear legs.

Krauss noted that there wasn’t any particular injury moment for Blue; he just started limping after waking up from a nap on Sept. 27. Krauss later took Blue to the doctor, and the doctor diagnosed the injury after X-rays.

Blue saw a specialist at VCA Advanced Medical who confirmed the torn CCL in his right hind leg. There are a few treatment options available for a CCL injury, and Blue was scheduled for a TPLO, or tibial plateau leveling osteotomy, which is a longer procedure.

However, his surgery was delayed because he’s a bulldog with allergies and was found to have bronchitis. There was no reason to do it urgently, and dogs need to be intubated and under anesthesia for surgery, so it was important that the bronchitis was treated first.

While waiting for surgery, Blue was able to attend Media Day and pose for photos with the women’s basketball players.

Butler freshman guard Karsyn Norman wears her white uniform and lays on her back with her head resting against the Bulldogs' mascot, Blue. Her arms are positioned toward the sky as if she has just shot a basketball toward an invisible hoop.
Butler freshman guard Karsyn Norman poses for a photo with mascot Blue on Oct. 3, 2023. (Photo credit: Zach Bolinger, Butler University)

After 10 days on steroids to treat his bronchitis, Blue’s surgery was completed on Oct. 20. The procedure took two hours, and he bounced back quickly.

“He wanted to be normal right away, but he needed time to heal,” Krauss said. “We’re cornering him off into a smaller area to keep him out of trouble. He seems to be feeling normal, no limping, not really tender.”

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The road to recovery

Blue started veterinary physical rehabilitation on Nov. 8. He’s currently working on five-minute walks twice per day and has a list of home exercises. He’s practicing his sit-to-stands to improve his glute strength and doing figure eights around objects. He’ll see his physical therapist weekly, starting with walking on an underwater treadmill and maneuvering over hurdles. The physical therapist will assess his mobility and strength and progress his level of activity accordingly.

“He’ll pretty much do anything if you say ‘Cheese,'” Krauss said. “He’s very motivated by food, except for carrots.”

Blue steps over hurdles at his first physical therapy appointment following surgery on Nov. 8, 2023.
(Video credit: Evan Krauss, Butler University)

Blue’s predecessor, Butler Blue III, also injured his CCL in 2016. The plan for Blue IV’s return to full duty is different, Krauss explained, because the dogs have different temperaments.

With Blue III, they waited for complete recovery before working because “he was just a little bit more rambunctious in nature. So if we were to take him to something, he would pull, he would try to go play, he would try to tear down a buffet. But luckily for us, Blue IV is pretty chill.”

They’ll phase Blue IV in starting with small jobs like surprise visits to recently admitted students. “Walking from the car to a student’s front doorstep, he’s more than capable [of that] and [it’s] something that we can control,” Krauss said. “… His work could be seen as PT if it’s done in a controlled manner.”

Butler sophomore Jordan Meulemans bends over to pet mascot Blue, a bulldog, who is wearing a blue sweater, as her teammates watch.
Current Butler sophomore Jordan Meulemans pets mascot Blue at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind., on Nov. 5, 2022. (Photo credit: Zach Bolinger, Butler University)

Back on the basketball court

The goal will be to increase Blue’s physical activity slowly and stimulate his mind so he’s ready to get back to his usual routine. He’s scheduled to travel to Orlando, Florida, to make his debut appearance at the ESPN Invitational with the Butler men’s basketball team on Nov. 19. He should also be ready for the university’s holiday gathering before final exams, where he poses as Santa Blue.

Blue’s travel schedule in 2024 will include stops at multiple BIG EAST schools. Krauss noted that all 58 schools with live mascots have posted get well messages for Blue on social media.

Blue’s rehab will take a few weeks, but he should be off the injured list and cheering on his teams soon.

Written by Abby Gordon

Abby Gordon is a Board-Certified Sports Physical Therapist at Seattle Children's Hospital. She was the Team Physical Therapist for the Seattle Storm from 2015 to 2022 and the Travel Coordinator and Equipment Manager for the Connecticut Sun from 2007 to 2010. After four seasons working as a team manager for the UConn Huskies Women's Basketball team, she graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2007 with a Bachelor's in Exercise Science and in 2014 with a Doctorate in Physical Therapy. She writes about WNBA Injuries and Sports Medicine Issues in Women's Basketball for The Next.

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