As you may have noticed by now, every Power Poll I write has some nod to Parks and Rec, which is the greatest TV show of all time, and also highly applicable to pretty much every scenario in life—including dumb polls about Big Ten football teams.
This week, the entire poll was inspired by the Parks Department’s decision to assign spirit dogs to each of the employees. You can refresh your memory on methodology here:
Coincidentally, did you know that October is Adopt a Shelter Dog month? It is! So in honor of all of the awesome dogs (and cats, because cats are terrific) waiting for their forever homes in shelters, and all of the shelters that care for them, I’ve chosen for your team’s spirit pet an actual adoptable creature, available within 100 miles of their representative school! All of these pets are current shelter pets, and to read their real bios, you can click on the link at the end of the description.
Remember: Adopt, Don’t Shop! Because as April says, “Animals should be rewarded for not being people.”
Ohio State—The Doberman (#1)
Dobermans are one of a few breeds that have experienced a period of popular rejection, based on stereotypes and fear. It’s true that the breed was developed as a supreme guard dog, designed to ferociously defend its owners and property on command. In that way, we can see its parallels to Ohio State—like a Doberman, if properly motivated, the Buckeyes can really eff your sh*t up if they decide to—we can only surmise that Maryland must have been teasing and provoking poor OSU. Bad Maryland! However, properly trained, Dobermans can be wonderful house pets, loving, loyal, and very intelligent—it is a well-known fact that most Dobermans could “play school” at OSU if they wished. This potential for passivity and peace was on display earlier this year, when a Big XII invader, who recently lost to Iowa State, broke into OSU’s home and desecrated its property with no response from the Buckeyes. In the end, it’s all about the training.
To read about distinguished Darla, click here!
Penn State—A Chihuahua Named Gizmo (#2)
As previously alluded to, like Craig Middlebrooks, you guys have a lot in common with nature’s yippiest ankle-biters. Lots of enthusiasm. Lots of insistence that you PAY ATTENTION TO US NOW, DAMMIT OR WE WILL LOSE OUR FRIGGIN’ MINDS AND POSSIBLY PIDDLE ON THE FLOOR!!!! There’s a certain trendiness to you right now—though that trendiness is a bit unsettling to most others. In the chihuahua realm, some people are bothered by the idea that people use a living creature as a fashion accessory—it seems a little unethical to carry around a poor little dog in your purse because you think it’s cute. For PSU, the unsettling component is framing a resurgent football team as “redemption”—that also seems a little unethical, or at the very least unsavory. At any rate PSU, you are Gizmo the Chihuahua—for chihuahuas are named Gizmo 67% of the time, which is definitely a real, Heisman-worthy stat.
Read about Redd, a sweet senior chihuahua here!
Wisconsin - The Bulldog (#3)
You know, I was going to make up fictional accounts for these animals and how they relate to their team... but I’m going to let Edna’s real profile speak for itself:
Think of me like your eccentric aunt; the one who smokes cigars and swears like a sailor... that’s me. I’ve had a rough life---I’m packing a bit of a fanny pack and I have a bit of an attitude. When I am happy, I growl. When I am not so happy…I really growl. I don’t like to be shut behind gates or crated. I’m okay with other dogs as long as they know who’s boss (yours truly)... When I want attention, I come and growl at you. So…. if you’re looking for a bully with a lot of character, or just a character; look no further--I’m your gal!
In some ways, Edna here is emblematic of the Badger football team (comfortable bossing the other dogs in the division), and in other ways, she’s just your run-of-the-mill Badger fan (cussing, cigar-smoking, growling, fanny-pack sporting). Either way, this girl is Pure Wisconsin.
Read about Edna, a bulldog who knows what she likes, here!
Michigan State - The American Staffordshire Terrier (#4)
Everyone is afraid of Bark Mantonio. He’s surly, growls a lot, and is rumored to practice dark magic:
In response to this threat, many cities have followed the lead of Ann Arbor and instituted breed-specific laws, barring residents from bringing Bark Mantonio or similar animals into their cities, a reactive response that does not actually prevent their teams from losing to Bark and his Spartans, as Jim Harbaugh has once again learned.
“Pit bull breeds” face similar prejudice to poor Bark—people recoil in fear when they harmlessly walk down the street because of a campaign of fear against their supposedly frightening visages. Of course, anyone who has taken a chance on a pittie knows that they’re far more likely to smother you in overly enthusiastic slobbery kisses than they are to bite your face off, which I assume is exactly the same case for Bark Mantonio.
To learn more about Kita, click here! I broke the 100 mile radius on this one, because I wanted to feature the SPCA of Tompkins County, because they’re one excellent no-kill shelter!
Michigan - The Blue and Gold Macaw (#5)
As with Wisconsin, this pet, who goes by Max, manages to fit his school with no fictionalizing on my part. Poor Max has developed a nervous habit of plucking his own feathers to cope with stress, though his current rescue group is hopeful that with therapy, he can develop more healthy coping behaviors, like milk-drinking or posting on MGoBlog. Anyway, Max has some great qualities too!
Personality wise - this guy has it all. He's a wild talker, he's a lover, he likes to be on you, and if you don't pick him up, you can expect him to fling his nearly naked self at you.
Max is fairly unpredictable. He will fly to attack, or he will fly to cuddle. You never know which. Max (like any bird) will bite when startled. You need to ask him for permission to touch around him while you're in his space. Max does not like to get off your shoulder once he's on. In order to get him off, you will need something to bribe him with, away from your face. We're actively working on behavior training with this.
To check out Max and his hopefully new coat of feathers, click here!
Iowa - Kirk Fur-entz (#6)
I love cats. I love dogs too, but if push came to shove, and I had to pick between the two, I’d choose cats, all day, every day. However, even though I love them, there is no denying one thing about them... and that is the fact that they’re massive assholes. Have you ever seen a cat catch a mouse or a bird? It’s a fascinating exercise in protracted torture. First, they stalk that little sucker. Then, they corner it. And then, they pounce! You might think this is the end of it, but no, it’s not. Most cats then proceed through a lengthy display of batting and re-catching and giving false hope and otherwise abusing their poor little amuse-bouche before either eating it or delivering it headless to their person’s bed pillow as a prized trophy.
Anyway, if you saw the Iowa-Illinois game last week, you know why Iowa is this cat.
Learn more about fluffy Sheeba here!
Purdue - The Poodle (#7)
First I need to freak out—look at him! I might have found literally the cutest dog ever. ::hearteyeemoji:: Ok. Admittedly, this match came purely from babaoreally’s suggestion that I pun on the “Poodle Boilermakers” which I found a solid idea, but when I think about it, this really is a great dog for Purdue. For a long time, Purdue football has been an object of ridicule, a metaphor for futility, an exercise in silliness. And when you think about poodles, that’s kind of where the narrative ends up too—I mean, what even is with those haircuts? Is that some kind of bad joke? And that’s what we all thought of Purdue too—that it was just a bad joke. But as any poodle owner knows, there’s more to the breed than finely sculpted frizzy hair—they’re a darn smart dog, with the myriad capabilities that accompany abundant canine intelligence. Such a realization seems completely at odds with outer appearances—and is comparable to the shocking realization dawning on Purdue fans and foes alike this season, as they discover the incongruity of guys wearing Purdue uniforms playing the game of football relatively competently.
To read more about superlatively cute Maurice Gibb, click here!
Maryland - The Tortoiseshell Cat (#8)
Have you ever had the pleasure of knowing a Tortie? If you have, you’d remember it, because it is one heck of a roller coaster ride. When these divas are feeling it, times are good and they’re great pets, doling out great vibes and beating Texas. But when they’re not... whooo boy. They’re demanding and bossy. They’re mouthy. They make you wish you’d chosen any other pet other than the temperamental furball currently yowling at you non-stop because the cat food you’ve served her has come from a bag that has been open for five whole days and is no longer at the peak of freshness, which she requires. In other words, in their off moods, they’re about as much fun as watching your team play OSU.
Also, those coats bear more than a passing resemblance to a Maryland uniform, amirite?
If you’d like to read more about Jenny, who sounds like a thoroughly pleasant Tortie, click here!
Indiana - The Rabbit (#9)
Rabbits, to be sure, have ardent fans. I get it, on some level—they’re very soft, they’re very cute, and they can be trained to use a litter box, which is nice. But most of the time, they’re sort of training wheels for the more big-time pets. Mom said no to a cat? Dad says no to a dog? Well...how about a rabbit? I am pretty sure that this is how 94% of rabbits come to join households--through pure lack of other opportunities.
Correct me if I’m wrong, Hoosier fans, but this is exactly how Indiana football fans come to be too, isn’t it? They can’t deal with Purdue. They really can’t deal with Notre Dame, for an entirely different set of reasons. So... Hoosiers it is.
To read more about Olivia and her excellent
hare hair, click here!
Nebraska - The Tabby Cat (#10)
I like big cats, and I cannot lie. They are just so adorable! But while they’re super cute and occasionally cuddly, beyond that, they sometimes don’t do much of anything else. They enjoy eating. They enjoy sleeping. They enjoy the feeling of a sunbeam on a warm day, and an occasional leisurely stretch between phases of napping. The napping—so much napping!—a personality marked by ceaseless slumber. And though it pains me to say it, because I love Husker football as I love big lazy cats, this is Nebraska football at the present time. They aren’t doing much—and it doesn’t look like they’re poised to be roused from their torpor anytime soon.
You can’t adopt this cat, because I already did! He passed away this spring, but before that, spent nine years proving how amazing shelter pets are, and 8.5 of those same years napping.
Northwestern - The Yorkie (#11)
Look at that sweet and wistful little face! That is the face of resignation to life’s trials with just a hint of sadness that the world is what it is. That the world involves playing Wisconsin. And Penn State. And Duke. That his team tried to run option on 4th and 3. This is a dog who would prefer to not think about such things any longer, and instead enjoy the new designer collar you bought him and the gourmet, organic, frosted dog treats from the upscale shopping center you bought him for $6 a biscuit and force your butler to feed to him on the good china. This little Yorkie, like many a Northwestern fan, is already over this season—and would rather lose himself in luxury than in the pain of watching Clayton Thorson get smashed to a pulp for another game.
The dog shown here is named “Bennie in Illinois,” which I find delightful and perfect for this particular poll. If you’d like to meet Bennie in Illinois, who is probably way better than Phyllis in Mulga, click here!
Minnesota - The Chinchilla (#12)
Awww, he’s SO cute! SO soft! SO special! All of these things were things that Minnesota fans said about PJ Fleck before the seasons started, while the honeymoon was in full swing. And all of these things can be said about chinchillas too, which is why they occasionally tempt people into pet ownership. They also can be pretty fun little creatures—friendly toward humans and other animals, playful, sweet, and energetic, just like a PJ. However... it turns out there are a few tricky things about chinchillas, and they require particular care. Their teeth grow continuously throughout their life, necessitating special dental care. They cannot sweat, so they need to be kept in cooler environments. Most distressingly for a bunch of boat rowers... chinchillas cannot get wet. If they do, their fur will mold and they can get sick.
I don’t know where I’m going with this. Basically, being cute and unique can only get you so far, Minnesota, eh?
To read about Whisper, a pretty little chinchilla, click here!
Illinois - The Guinea Pigs (#13)
Far be it from me to impugn one’s choice of pet, and I know there are ardent guinea pig fans out there... but I just don’t get the appeal, if I’m honest. They’re kind of cute (I mean look at the fur on that one on the left!) and the way they communicate with those funny squeaks is adorable. They’re also handy because they eat all of your vegetable detritus, which is nice. But beyond that, they don’t offer a lot to the pet owner—you can’t take them to the park to attract potential romantic partners like you can a dog, and they won’t fruitlessly chase a fly around your home for hours like a cat. And that’s why they’re Illinois—they have their charms for some, I suppose, but for the rest of us, there just isn’t much here to love, at least not yet. We still need some convincing—can Jeff George, Jr. win us over?
If you need more Melody and Harmony in your life, check them out here!
Rutgers - Chris Ash (#14)
This one is a pity case—you can’t look at that picture and remain unmoved, can you? Poor little guy. It is here we see the good work that our animal shelters/Rutgers’ athletic departments do in providing food, shelter, and placement for society’s unloved. If you can’t adopt, please consider donating money, time, or supplies to your local shelter, so that Chris and others like him can be well cared for as they wait for their
first conference win forever home.
Will this be the weekend Chris’ life changes forever?
If you’re interested in giving Chris Ash a good home, please act now and call today!
Have you ever adopted a pet?
This poll is closed
No, but I will now!