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The Husky mascot emerged from a mass vaccination effort

The Husky tradition has been continued by a breeder, Margaret Cook, a 1964 grad, who visited Northeastern with puppies a few years ago. Photo by Adam Glanzman/Northeastern University

The Northeastern Husky mascot has a storied history going back nearly 100 years, including a long line of canines that retired as sled dogs and joined the university as live mascots. Here’s the story of the Northeastern Husky, replete with vintage photographs that underscore how deep the mascot is engrained in school spirit.

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1920s-1940s

1920s-1940s

king husky receiving a birthday cake

King Husky’s birthday, March 17, 1927. “[He] received many…gifts, among them being … a tan leather collar and leash, bought with money contributed by the students, a dog-mat from the Class of 1923, and a large meat pie, in the center of which was a large candle.” – The Cauldron 1927.

Northeastern University President Frank Palmer Speare introduces King Husky I to the crowd, March 4, 1927.

Assembled guests at the coronation of King Husky I, March 4, 1927.

“It was on March 4 that the entire student body of the day schools assembled at the North Station to welcome Husky The First. From the station the parade proceeded to the University.” – The Cauldron 1927

king husky poses next to his breeder

King Husky I, poses between his breeder, Leonhard Seppala (l) and NU Student Council member Ray Todd (r). Seppala was portrayed by actor Willem DeFoe in the 2019 film Togo which chronicles the 1925 Alaskan serum run.

The Cauldron, 1927

Why a Husky?

Northeastern had no mascot until 1927 after momentum grew to find a fitting symbol for school spirit. Animal mascots were in vogue during the 1920s and one story that gripped the nation was the rush delivery of a diphtheria antitoxin serum by dog sled across uncharted Alaska. Several sled teams led by huskies covered 674 miles in less than a week to deliver the vaccine, thus saving Nome, Alaska, and the surrounding isolated communities from an impending epidemic.

In short, the husky was a superstar and Northeastern chose its mascot. On March 4, 1927, a husky named Sapsut, whose father had been on the team during the Alaska run, was delivered to the university by Leonhard Seppala, one of the Alaskan serum run’s lead mushers. Then Northeastern president Frank Speare canceled classes on the day of his arrival and presented him as the new mascot in a university-wide celebration. Sapsut was given an honorary degree and named King Husky. He served for 14 years as the mascot and died of old age in 1941.

1950s

1950s

northeastern cheerleaders with king husky

Northeastern cheerleaders with King Husky II, 1949.

king husky being coronated

Eva Seeley of Chinook Kennels presenting King Husky II at his coronation, January 12, 1942.

Assembled guests at the coronation of King Husky II, January 12, 1942.

Eva Seeley of Chinook Kennels holds King Husky II.

King Husky II is crowned and presented to the crowd, January 12, 1942.

NU cheerleading squad with King Husky III, October, 1952.

King Husky IV wore the crown in 1958.

New kings and turnover on the throne

The next long-serving mascot was King Husky II, who came from a long line of sled and exploration dogs. King Husky II served as Northeastern’s mascot for 10 years until he retired in 1952.

1960s

1960s

Unveiling of the finished King Husky statue, June 8, 1962. L-R: Dean of Students Gilbert G. MacDonald, Northeastern University President Asa Knowles, Student Council President Robert L. Washburn, President of the Sophomore Class Suzanne M. Nourry.

A student poses with the husky statue in Ell Hall, March 1963.

Here come Mr. and Mrs. Husky

In 1960 “Mr. Husky” was born. Set up as an election-style competition, one male student was awarded the title and would wear a husky suit to sporting events. Later in the 1960s, Mrs. Husky was introduced, becoming an official co-mascot.

The Husky Statue Fund Drive began in the late 1950s to install a statue depicting the beloved King Husky I. Sculpted by Adio di Biccari and Arcangelo Cascieri, the statue was installed in 1962 in Ell Hall, where it remains to this day. Tradition holds that rubbing the husky’s nose will bring good luck in the coming academic year and the bronze statue’s nose shows distinct signs of wear from hopeful students over the years.

1960s-1970s

1960s-1970s

king husky poses next to a female student

King Husky V poses with student on the Northeastern University campus in 1966. King Husky V was mascot at Northeastern from 1965 to 1970.

king husky at the radio station

King Husky V takes to the airwaves with WNEU DJ Herbert Schachter in 1967.

king husky with a female student

King Husky V poses with a student in 1966.

a student rubbing the king husky statue

A student rubs the husky statue’s nose for good luck while King Husky V looks on.

Return of the live king

In 1965, the graduating class of 1970 decided to raise funds to buy a new canine mascot for the school with the stipulation that the dog would “graduate” with the class. King Husky V served as the live mascot for five years until the class of 1970 graduated.

2000s

2000s

king husky mascot outside in the snow giving two thumbs up

Paws enjoys a snowy campus. Photo by Brooks Canaday/Northeastern University.

king husky mascot with students on campus

Paws with incoming freshman on the Snell Library Quad. Photo by Brooks Canaday/Northeastern University.

king husky mascot

Paws. Photo by Mary Knox Merrill/Northeastern University.

Introducing Paws

In the fall of 2003, Northeastern unveiled Paws—a new, updated, costumed mascot designed to replace the student-elected Mr. and Mrs. Husky. Paws proved to be a fun and popular character and maintains an active appearance schedule.

2005-present

2005-present

king husky being petted by a student

The current King Husky—”Moses”—visits campus during Wellness Week, March, 2021. Photo by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University.

king husky with his breeder and three husky puppies

Husky breeder, Margaret Cook, LA’64, visits Northeastern University with puppies and King Husky on Oct. 2, 2017. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University.

husky puppies

King Husky and his puppy friends visit Centennial Common on May 03, 2021. Photo by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University.

king husky wearing a graduation cap

King Husky is ready for class! Photo by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University.

king husky being petted by students

King Husky visits campus in March, 2021. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University.

A new beginning

In 2005, Northeastern looked to return to its tradition of having a live mascot. Margaret Cook, a 1964 graduate of the university’s liberal arts program and breeder of Siberian Huskies at Teeco Kennels in Easton, Massachusetts, answered the call. Three of Cook’s huskies have worn the crown since 2005. The current king, called Moses, frequently makes appearances on campus. If you’re lucky, you’ll see Moses with puppies in tow.

All photos courtesy Northeastern University Archives & Special Collections unless otherwise noted.

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