The University of Texas’ first mascot wasn’t a Longhorn. No their first mascot was Pig. Not a pig but Pig (Pig Bellmont to be exact) the tan and white Pit Bull mix who had the run of UT’s campus from 1914-1923. Although Bevo made brief appearances on campus in 1916 and 1920, the students didn’t really connect with the Longhorn as a mascot. In fact, probably the most memorable thing about the early Bevo was when he was eaten as the main course at a football banquet.
Pig came to campus by L. Theo Bellmont when he was seven weeks old. Theo Bellmont was a co-founder of the Southwest Conference and the University of Texas’ first athletic director. Bellmont decided to name the dog Pig after Gus “Pig” Ditmar, a center for the Longhorn’s football team. Ditmar received his nickname for his ability to break through the opposing line like, “a greased pig.” It also helped that Ditmar was bow-legged, an attribute he shared with dog, something students noticed as the two were standing on the sideline of a 1914 game together.
Pig was welcome throughout campus from Old Main to the front steps of the University Co-op where he slept most nights. Pig greeted students and faculty every morning before making his rounds through classrooms and the library. Pig was particularly attached to cadets of the School of Military Aeronautics and would accompany them on hikes and for inspection.
Pig was also a loyal supporter of UT’s athletic teams. He would make trips for both home and away games. Perhaps most important to UT students, it was reported Pig would snarl at even the slightest mention of Texas A&M University.
Pig’s time at UT came to an abrupt end on New Year’s Day 1923 when he was hit by a Model T at the corner of 24th and Guadalupe. Although it was obvious he was injured, no one realized just how seriously until Pig’s body was found a couple days later.
The University of Texas community was devastated. Over the past nine years, Pig had become an integral part of the school’s daily life. On January 5, 1923 Pig’s body laid in state in front of his favorite spot – the University Co-op. Hundreds of mourners came to pay their respects and view the small casket draped in orange and white ribbons.
At five o’clock that afternoon, a funeral procession began led by the University of Texas band. Pig’s pallbearers were members of a student organization formed the year before, in 1922 – the Texas Cowboys. The long procession made its way to northwest of the Law School where Pig’s eulogy was delivered amongst a small grove of live oak trees.
Dr. Thomas Taylor, founder and dean of the College of Engineering was the man to deliver those words in Pig’s honor. Taylor summed up everyone’s feelings with his last few words, “I do not know if there is a haven of rest to which good dogs go, but I know Pig will take his place by the side of the great dogs of the earth.” At the conclusion of the eulogy, a lone trumpet echoed out a mournful Taps. After the funeral a small marker was left to immortalize UT’s first mascot: “Pig’s Dead…Dog Gone.”