Kevin and Erin Bell and Porterhouse pose for a photo at a basketball game.
Kevin and Erin Bell love to talk about their dog, Porterhouse.
You can't blame them. Since being crowned the 2009 Drake Relays Beautiful Bulldog, the burly but laidback charmer has become a hugely popular presence at athletic events. But, if Porterhouse could talk, you can bet he'd brag about Kevin and Erin as much as they do about him. View photos of Porterhouse in an online gallery.
Kevin recently was elected president of the Drake University Student Bar Association (SBA), a yearlong appointment he begins in March. Erin, meanwhile, recently returned from Haiti, where she was doing medical relief work.
Kevin, a second-year law student, has been active as an SBA representative. He's also involved with the Drake Law School moot court and mock trial programs, and with the
Drake Journal of Agricultural Law. He was a finalist in the C. Edwin Moore Competition, which gave him an opportunity to argue a case in front the Iowa Court of Appeals.
The Law School's SBA has a tradition of excellence. In 2007, the organization received the SBA of the Year award from the American Bar Association/Law Student Division.
"We have a strong Student Bar Association," says Kevin. "My goal is to do the best I can to help the organization to continue to represent the Drake Law School and to work with alumni and the Career Development Office to keep Drake's name front and center in the legal field locally and nationally."
Kevin also wants to increase awareness about SBA activities.
"I'd like to see more transparency," he says. "We need to do a better job letting students know what we're doing when we're doing it, so they can share any immediate concerns with us."
Erin Bell and a boy during her last visit to Haiti for relief work.
With Kevin's election as SBA president, Porterhouse may find himself adding law school events to his busy schedule.
This year, Porterhouse and at least one of the Bells has attended all but one home football game, all the men's and women's home basketball games, several volleyball matches and, of course, Drake Relays. He's even got a triple play to his credit: a football game, basketball game and volleyball game all in the course of a single day.
Porterhouse laps up the adoration of Bulldog fans. But in February, there was one person Porterhouse wanted to see more than anyone: Erin. Every time he heard a car pull up in the driveway, he'd run to the window, a toy clutched in his mouth, hoping that she was finally home.
A public health nurse with Wesley Life, Erin spent eight days in Haiti doing relief work with No Time for Poverty, a non-governmental organization. It was Erin's fourth trip to the impoverished country, but her first since the disaster.
"I thought Haiti couldn't get any worse, but it has. It's gotten a lot worse and it blows my mind," she says. "Everywhere you turn there's someone without a leg or without an arm, or with a bandage on their head."
Porterhouse missed Erin like crazy, but ever the showman, he didn't let down his legion of fans.
"Porterhouse is an extraordinary dog. He's got personality and character well beyond any bulldog I've ever met, and I've met a lot up close and personal, having judged the Beautiful Bulldog contest for the past three years," says Sandra Hatfield Clubb, Drake's athletic director.
"He's got a great demeanor and personality, which he obviously gets from his owners," she adds. "They're both just terrific people who've made a commitment to bring Porterhouse to all our athletic events."
Porterhouse leads the men's basketball team onto the court in true Bulldog fashion.
Porterhouse also has popped in on several non-athletic events, even greeting aspiring National Alumni Scholars who visited campus for the annual scholarship competition in February. It's a busy schedule, even for a Beautiful Bulldog.
"We love our dog and to be able to take him to these events is lots of fun," says Kevin.
Porterhouse, four-years-old and a compact 60-pounds, is a total professional. He knows if Kevin or Erin is carrying his bag of stuff -- crown and cape, Drake golf towel, blue water bowl and doggie treats -- he's going to a game. He's ready for action the second the Bells arrive on campus.
At football games, Kevin would run Porterhouse up and down the sidelines, much to the joy of students and others fans. Eventually Porterhouse was invited to be in the football team photo, posing between two helmets.
Athletics staff members know a good draw when they see it, and soon Porterhouse was asked to attend other Bulldog sporting events. The pooch's popularity has only grown, and his presence at games now feels as necessary and familiar as the color blue.
"I still can't get over the reaction we get. I thought it would taper off, but at every game it's like the first time everyone's seen him," says Erin. "People just love him. We joke that we should rent him out as a chick magnet, because guys think he's an awesome dog and girls think he's so cute."
At basketball games, Porterhouse leads the team onto the floor by chasing a ball that Kevin rolls across court. This all has to be timed perfectly, because Porterhouse is really, really into it. Even opposing fans applaud his vigorous routine, which concludes with Porterhouse triumphantly placing his paw on the ball.
"He wants the ball," says Kevin. "He's docile as can be but when it comes to a basketball or football, it's hard to hold him back."
This spring, Porterhouse will turn over his title to a newly crowned Drake Relays Beautiful Bulldog, but he'll continue as a Drake mascot for at least another year.
"Fans love him," says Hatfield Clubb. "I can't count the number of fans who've asked me if we can keep him as our official mascot forever."