Legend – University of Southern California

George Tirebiter

Some say that a stray dog named George Tirebiter shown in this photograph to the right actually served as a mascot for the University of Southern California.  Supposedly discovered by a student on the beach at Santa Monica, George was initially a feeble stray mutt.  The student’s mother nursed the poor dog back to health, and in no time it was running around campus with his new friends.  The lovable dog gained fame, happily chasing squirrels, licking students, and biting tires of the passing cars.  He became so popular that he was actually made a mascot of the university. He showed his true Trojan spirit when he bit UCLA’s mascot Joe Bruin.  This feisty trooper heroically gave his life in a tragic encounter with a much larger car.

My friend Grant told me that he had learned this story from a USC student tour guide during a visit to the school during the summer.  He also remembers his orientation counselor briefly mentioning George as they passed the statue and plaque dedicated to George on the South side of campus.  Raised in Berkeley, California, Grant had no idea whether the story he had been told was true, having no prior knowledge of the famed puppy.

Even though I had been following Trojan football since I was young, I had no recollection of little George.  I checked out the memorial constructed for George and it revealed a small amount of information; George was a legitimate Trojan mascot during the 1940’s and 1950’s.  The plaque notes his feisty character and records the incident where he bit the UCLA mascot on the nose.  It tells how he led the marching band and even had a 3.2 GPA after taking courses such as Chasing Cats 101 and Biting Tires 270.  However, they entire text of the plaque is written in whimsical, hearsay tone, even including the phrase “rumor has it.”

A story about George was published in the Daily Trojan, volume 135, number 23 on October 6, 1998.  The story began on page 1 and ended on page six.  This article includes more stories about George.  Apparently he was kidnapped by UCLA students and rescued by the Trojan Knights, a student organization at USC designed to protect the spirit of Troy.  The article mentions that there were actually four George Tirebiters, one at a time, each in succession of the previous ones.  The first two George Tirebiters were tragically killed in car accidents.  The article mentions a book about George, entitled Bite On by George Reichart.  However, I was not able to find any publishing information about this children’s book outside of the article.  Still, George’s legacy lives on and is immortalized by the striking, playful memorial dedicated to George on the South entrance to campus shown here.