ABERDEEN, S.D. (KELO) — A familiar face at a KELOLAND college is retiring, but we’re not talking about a faculty or staff member.
Head to Presentation College and you might come across a Saint Bernard lounging around campus or taking a stroll.
That dog is Spirit, the college’s live mascot.
“Once I met Spirit I just kind of fell in love,” Presentation College student Alex Karp said.
Fifth year senior and football player Alex Karp volunteers to take Spirit on walks. He knows one of the keys to her heart.
“If you have food on you she’s definitely going to be a good friend of yours,” Karp said.
“I’m pretty sure she is the most popular person/dog on campus here at PC,” Presentation College Vice President of Advancement Matthew Blair said.
Vice President of Advancement Matthew Blair says Spirit can be found in different areas of campus throughout the week.
You’ll also spot the mascot at college events including football games.
Spirit is an Aberdeen celebrity. Not only can you find her on campus, but she also makes appearances around the community.
“Spirit is out several times a month at community events whether it be with young people, old people, everybody in the Aberdeen community knows spirit,” Blair said.
No matter where she goes, there’s a good chance she’ll make someone smile or bring them comfort.
“I don’t think she was trained to be a therapy dog, but she certainly is. Just being on campus, you’ll see students who are having a rough day and Spirit walks into a room and all of a sudden spirit their mind off that bad grade they got or bad experience they had on campus that day,” Blair said.
“I think Spirit reminds people of home, and we talk about family on campus, and especially us just being a close-knit group of students and faculty we consider ourselves family and I feel like most families have a dog, so it kind of gives people that sense of home,” Karp said.
Spirit joined the campus family as a puppy.
Now at eight years old she’s getting ready to retire in December.
“So Spirit’s in really good health right now, but she is getting up in years and we have seen her slow down a little bit, so we wanted, while she still has a pep in her step, we wanted to celebrate her and give her that retirement she so greatly deserves,” Blair said.
Karp considers himself grateful to know Spirit, a dog who’s been a part of his Presentation College experience since the beginning.
“It makes me feel old because when I first came on campus Spirit was so young and so fresh and I didn’t realize how fast the time had actually passed by. Her leaving does make me sad just because it’s the end of an era, but I’m really happy that everyone got to experience everything that Spirit brought to PC,” Karp said.
But even in retirement, this joyful spirit will continue brightening people’s days.
When she’s not out and about, Spirit lives with a former Presentation College employee.
Spirit will be given the distinction of Mascot Emerita during a basketball game in December, and she’ll attend a midnight breakfast with students during finals week.