And at long last, a feature length video detailing the "Uga's" and their owners is in production and will soon be available to the public. "Damn Good Dog" is a one-of-a-kind documentary, or better said, "dogumentary" exploring the 46-year history of the
Frank W. (Sonny) Seiler Family of Savannah, GA and their line of English Bulldogs named "Uga."
The documentary is not the only film credit for an "Uga" or Sonny Seiler. He and "Uga V", the deceased mascot of the current "Uga," appeared in the 1997 film "Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil." Seiler also had a small role in "The Legend of Bagger Vance" and the John Grisham movie, "The Gingerbread Man."
|UGA VI mascot of the Georgia Bulldogs looks on from his dog house during a game against the Louisiana State Tigers at Stanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia. The Bulldogs defeated the Tigers 23-22. Photo: Scott Halleran /Allsport|
Erica McCarthy, owner of Nowhere Productions in Athens, GA, conceived "Damn Good Dog". McCarthy, a graduate of the University of Georgia, has been shadowing the Seilers for nearly two years to gather footage and related data for the film. McCarthy has previously produced two superlative highlights videos of the University of Georgia's perennial national championship gymnastics teams.
Athens historian John Seawright, who is doing much of the research for the film, is assisting McCarthy with the project.
"I think it's truly an amazing story," said the personable McCarthy. "The Seilers have dedicated nearly a half-century to these dogs. The average person does not understand how much time they put into maintaining the tradition of these dogs. It is a big misconception that they are well paid for their work with the mascots. However, the Seilers have never received a penny, although it is a huge expense. They strictly do it out of their love for the University of Georgia. Hopefully, this film will give them credit for all they've done for a very long period of time."
"This story is indeed a labor of love," said the dynamic Sonny Seiler, who gets a zenith of satisfaction from the memories of each dog. "My wife Cecelia and I have watched our children grow up with these dogs and now we're watching our grandchildren be raised with them. This is a serious matter to our family."
It all began in 1956, when newlywed students Sonny and Cecelia started taking their new English Bulldog puppy, named "Uga" by William Young of Columbus, a University of Georgia Law School classmate of Sonny's, to Georgia football games. An athlete himself, young Sonny wanted to do anything he could to help promote his beloved alma mater. Upon their graduation and ultimate return to Sonny's hometown of Savannah, the Seiler's promised then Georgia head football coach Wally Butts, Athletics Promotions Director Dan Magill and Ticket Manager Howell Hollis that "Uga," the school's new official mascot, would, despite his relocation, faithfully attend every Georgia football game. Little did the Seilers know what they had started.
The Seiler's story is one of family, dedication and love. "Damn Good Dog" explores Uga's popularity as it directly correlates to the strength of the media in our society, the growth and success of the University of Georgia and its ultra-successful football program as well as the growth of the State of Georgia.
|UGA V stands on the field during the Outback Bowl between the Bulldogs and the Wisconsin Badgers at Houlihan Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Photo: Scott Halleran/ALLSPORT|
There have been regional, national and even international publicity about the Seiler's six-dog history, highlighted by Sports Illustrated crowning "Uga" the Number One Mascot in America with a cover story in 1998. "Damn Good Dog" promises to bite into the best of the written and broadcast tributes to these great dogs.
It is told through recollections from dozens of people who have been "there for the ride" with interviews, archival footage, personal and professional photographs and memorabilia. These will include Lady Chablis, a star of "Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil," and University of Georgia sports legends, Coach Vince Dooley, Fran Tarkenton, Dan Magill, Buck Belue and Herschel Walker. Celebrated musician Steve Dancz, son of longtime Georgia Redcoat Marching Band Roger Dancz is producing a Bulldog soundtrack for the film, which will be narrated by Larry Munson, the incomparable voice of the Georgia Bulldogs.
Sonny Seiler tells of the early days of travel to Georgia football games, sometimes by train, usually accompanied by various willing friends who learned to bring along a can of aerosol spray because of "Uga's" flatulent nature. Today, "Uga" travels with the team free on Delta Airlines. Viewers of this film will get to see the world through "Uga's" eyes with his specially designed Ugacam, a unique and state-of-the-art process started near the end of the 1998 Georgia football season-"Uga V's" last year as Georgia's mascot.
McCarthy, who operates the scoreboard at Georgia's Sanford Stadium and Stegeman Coliseum, approached Sonny Seiler about attaching a camera onto Uga's collar so that she could broadcast his POV to the Sanford Stadium audience during a game. Seiler thought the dog would be too active for this process to work. However, since "Uga V" was in his later years and not too active at the time, Seiler skeptically gave permission to try Ugacam. And like one of his many great fourth quarter finishes, "Uga" proved he was aptly ready to oblige the new Ugacam process. The first images from Uga's custom designed camera involved his view up a cheerleader's skirt to the delight of more than 87,000 fans watching in person. Needless to say, the rest is history and helped convince Seiler to permit a film to be done about the "Uga's" and he and his family's involvement with them.
Also included is never before seen footage from the sidelines of many big games, behind the scenes at his countless personal appearances and fundraisers, as well as "Uga" hanging out at home in Savannah. Travel with "Uga IV," decked out in a custom-made tuxedo, to New York City with Herschel Walker to the Heisman Trophy banquet. G