Yale University

Class News

Handsome Dan XVII (aka Sherman, '64 honorary classmate) has passed away

Handsome Dan XVII, known as Sherman, passed away on August 11, 2016. Below you can see an article from Yale News, followed by a remembrance by Chris Getman '64 in the form of a letter to all classmates who sent condolences on the occasion of Sherman's death. Below Chris's letter there are two videos and a memorial photo gallery.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Yale University's Handsome Dan XVII (aka Sherman) passed away on Thursday, August 11, 2016, in Quonochontaug, Rhode Island. The cause of death was most likely a heart attack. Sherman, who spent nine years as Yale's mascot, was nine years old when he passed away. The average lifespan of an English bulldog is 8 to 10 years.

Sherman was in Rhode Island with his caretaker Chris Getman, Yale class of '64. Sherman had experienced seizures earlier in the summer but was on meds and doing well, according to Getman.

Sherman lived a good life. He was appointed a midshipmen by the United States Naval Reserve with the title of Yale Midshipmen Captain in 2015, and was the Chairman of the Board of Canine Cognitive Behavioral Studies Center. He had met former presidents George H. W. Bush and Jimmy Carter as well as Sir Paul McCartney. He was also the star in the Yale Class of 2016's senior movie where he played a character that was kidnapped.

Handsome Dan XVII was appointed as Yale's mascot in 2007. His house name is "Sherman." He was named after the tank and Connecticut icon Roger Sherman.

"He loved his job, was very enthusiastic, and brought joy to a lot of people," Getman said.

Yale Athletics has yet to determine a plan to find a successor for Sherman.

A letter by Chris Getman '64

Dear Friends,

The letters of condolence about Sherman’s sudden demise have been overwhelming and are greatly appreciated by Toddie and me. They have come from around the globe.

Sherm apparently died of a heart attack or a stroke. It was very sudden and apparently not painful. He was at the top of his game, playing with his Scottie brother Edward, retrieving, etc. He got up on Friday the 12th, got his usual back rub, went out, came back, ate his breakfast, and then keeled over. I am glad that I was here and that our grandson, Will, could help me take him to the car.

He had a truly amazing life and contributed greatly to the quality of life at Yale and in the community.

Among other things he marched at the head of the soon-to-be-inaugurated President Salovey’s parade of dogs with Portia Salovey, he was the star of the senior class movie, he was elected Chairman of the Board of the Canine Cognitive Behavioral Studies Group, a 501(c)3 which seeks to reduce euthanasia nationally by educating potential owners about the risks and responsibilities of dog ownership, and he was appointed Midshipman Captain in Yale’s ROTC program. This meant that he outranked all of the Yale midshipmen. When asked if he had anything to say to the corps of midshipmen, he barked. They then saluted and marched off of the field.

Yale used him extensively as a fund raiser. One appeal had him peering through Yale's captain’s fence, appealing to those who were still undecided about giving to Yale — or "on the fence" — to do so by June 30th.  Another appeal was a video of him rolling over, appealing to anyone over 70½ to roll over up to $100K of their IRA to Yale.  Our class benefited greatly from this appeal at our 50th reunion.

In addition to these PR activities, the right to be on the field with him at football games raised thousands of dollars for local charities.

We have pictures of him with Sir Paul McCartney, Paul Giamatti, Garry Trudeau, Lewis Black, and former Presidents George H. W. Bush (41), and Jimmy Carter.  He also had his picture painted by President George W. Bush (43), which raised significant proceeds at auction to benefit Mory’s.

More importantly, he was a dog of the people, willing to be photographed and patted by innumerable fans.

There is a huge hole in Toddie’s and my lives, but we’re extremely grateful to have been blessed with his presence for 9½ years.

Ironically, there is an article in this week's Parade Magazine (August 28) which features him and three other dogs with jobs.

Thanks to all my classmates for your thoughtful remarks.


From Parade Magazine, August 28, 2016 ...

Watch the three videos below, then scroll down for some Handsome Dan photos. The first video is Chris's description of what it's like to have been the keeper of four Handsome Dans spanning 34 years. The second video gives you a dog's-eye view of the 2012 Yale Commencement. The third video is Dan's moment on prime-time TV.

See below for the face only a mother — and a Yalie — could love (we're talking about the dog).

Requiescat in pace, Handsome Dan.