To the students, faculty and fans of Louisiana Tech football, the new mascot is known as Tech XXI.
Successor to the late Tech XX, he is a symbol of strength for the athletes of Tech and one of unity for the Tech family.
To the Scott family however, Tech XXI is simply Festus. Holtzkys Festus Hagen, to be precise.
No strangers to adopting and fostering dogs, Festus is the fifth dog the Scott family has welcomed into their home.
“We’ve been rescuing and taking in dogs for some time now,” Michelle Scott said.
Michelle and her husband Greg are both Tech alumni and said they were proud to be the caregivers of Tech’s new mascot.
However, getting to be the caregivers was no easy feat.
The Scotts had to apply to be Festus’ caregivers to ensure they met the requirements of the United States Department of Agriculture and ensure they were fit to care for him.
“We had to make sure the USDA was happy after what happened to the last mascot,” Greg said.
Tech’s previous mascot, Tech XX, died from a heat stroke in July 2012.
Complying with the USDA’s requirements included the Scotts’ building a fence, ensuring Festus eats the right food and gets regular exercise.
Will Dearmon, former president of the Student Government Association who currently works at the Bulldog Achievement Resource Center, handled bringing Festus down from Missouri.
Leaving his life as a show dog behind him, Festus made his debut as Tech’s new mascot at the 2013 Homecoming game against North Texas.
Though the Scotts are not obligated to take Festus to all sporting events, the Scotts accompanied him to his homecoming debut where two of the children accompanied him on the field.
When Festus is not fulfilling his mascot duties like overseeing football games and posing for pictures with Tech students, he spends his time as any other dog in the Scotts’ home.
Since he came from living with a breeder to being part of a family, Michelle said it took Festus time to get used to being part of a family.
“He’s come a long way,” she said about Festus’ attitude toward living with the Scotts. “It took awhile, but he’s just like a member of the family.”
Having been raised around so many other animals, the Scotts’ children were unfazed about adding another four-legged member to their family.
“We’re used to having a bunch of dogs,” said the Scotts’ oldest daughter, Skylar. “One more didn’t hurt.”
Though they were disappointed when it turned out they did not get a puppy as they suspected, Skylar and her younger sister, Jordan, came to love Festus like any other pet.
They dressed him up in wigs and glasses for Halloween and laugh at the way he interacts with the family’s other pets.
Festus has since found his place in their home and made it his own.
“He’s so stubborn,” Michelle said with a laugh. “He loves the couch even though he’s not supposed to be on it.”
When the Scotts signed the contract agreeing to be Festus’ caregivers, they agreed to care of him for five years.
“After that we have the option to make him a permanent member of the family,” Michelle said.
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