Yale University

Class News

Chris Getman '64 enjoys life with Handsome Dan

New Haven Register

October 21, 2014

Chris Getman was a hard-throwing lefthander for the Yale baseball team. He’s also been a community leader in New Haven and a successful businessman as owner of Soundview Capital Management Corp.

But it’s something else of which Getman is most proud. He serves as caretaker of one of the world’s most famous mascots, Yale’s four-legged celebrity, Handsome Dan.

Getman, 73, took over the role in 1983. Frank Ryan, Yale’s athletic director at the time, needed someone to look after the bulldog. Getman volunteered. Three decades and four Handsome Dans later, he’s still going for walks and playing fetch.

The latest Handsome Dan is the 27th edition of the school’s mascot. His home name is Sherman after the tank, and he’s 7 years old and weighs 65 pounds.

“We’re keeping him like a linebacker rather than a lineman,” Getman said.

Go to a football game at the Yale Bowl and see Getman walking Handsome Dan around the field. That comes after a little tailgating, of course. But appearances for the bulldog don’t end there. The mascot’s calendar gets quite full. Just last week, Getman took him to the Yale Club of New Haven book awards, a video shoot for an alumni fund, and an ROTC ball at the Omni Hotel.

With Getman, Handsome Dan has greeted students at Bulldog days in the spring, marched in every graduation parade, and served as the grand marshal at Yale president Peter Salovey’s inaugural parade. He’s even officiated a chili-tasting contest and made an appearance at a wedding for two Yale alumni in Greenwich.

Through appearances and to have the honor of walking Handsome Dan around the Yale Bowl, the mascot has raised over $100,000 for charities.

Getman says he loves the attention and is a magnet for photographs. His Handsome Dans have posed for pictures with president George H.W. Bush, Paul McCartney of the Beatles, and Lewis Black of the Daily Show, along with many other celebrities over the years. Earlier this season, he posed with the Army mules during the Yale-Army game.

Getman said one of his earlier Handsome Dans, home name Maurice, was not as friendly with the opponent. He would bark at and even chase opponents’ mascots, whether Brown’s bear or Princeton’s tiger.

During his down time at home, Handsome Dan likes to play fetch and spend time with Getman’s other dog, a Scottish Terrier named Edward.

“They’re an odd looking couple,” said Getman’s wife, Toddie. “But they get along and have a lot of fun.”

Getman has taught Handsome Dan his share of tricks, too. He will lie down, speak, and come on command. He feeds Handsome Dan a special diet of bulldog food, but he does get the occasional leftover.

“It’s been fun,” Getman said. “I’ve met a lot of people. He’s a real ambassador for Yale and that’s what I take the most pride in.”

Getman is humbled to be a part of the rich tradition. Yale had its first Handsome Dan in 1889 and the bulldog even graced the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1956. He tells one great story after another about the famed mascot. His eyes widen and he smiles when he talks about it all.

The saying goes, a dog is a man’s best friend. For Getman, his just happens to be a celebrity.