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A university’s beloved bulldog mascot was dying, so the school held a graduation for him

Thurber's graduation

Thurber, the beloved mascot for the University of Redlands, was diagnosed with cancer in early November. The university honored him with a commencement ceremony Monday to thank him for his service. Thurber, 8, passed away Tuesday.
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Thurber, the beloved mascot for the University of Redlands, was diagnosed with cancer in early November. The university honored him with a commencement ceremony Monday to thank him for his service. Thurber, 8, passed away Tuesday.

As a final parting gift for his seven years of service, one Southern California university gave its beloved mascot the chance to graduate.

Thurber the Bulldog is the mascot for the University of Redlands, a small liberal-arts college an hour outside of Los Angeles. Thurber, 8, began serving as the school’s mascot in 2010, according to the Redlands Daily Facts. He was diagnosed with cancer in early November after a veterinarian found tumors on his spleen and a growth on his heart.

As his condition worsened, the university decided to honor him with a commencement ceremony Monday. In front of 200 people, Thurber was pulled into the Greek Theatre in the same wagon in which he attended football games. He received a pair of bachelor’s degrees in math and psychology with minors in theatre arts and human-animal studies, according to the university.

The graduating class of 2018 knew Thurber likely wouldn’t make it to their graduation. So, they planned a ceremony for him, the university said.

“You aren’t just a bulldog — you’re a whole university’s best friend,” student Ben Galgano said on the school’s website.

Thurber died Tuesday evening. His handler, professor Beth Doolittle, announced the news on Facebook.

“Thurber crossed the rainbow bridge this afternoon. He is now in peace and comfortable. The last few weeks have been difficult seeing his struggles with his aggressive spleen cancer. He always presented himself to his fans with great aplomb never really showing the discomfort he was experiencing. Thanks to all who loved him and helped celebrate his graduation. I miss him dearly already,” Doolittle wrote. “He was the best dog and mascot ever.”

Thurber’s successor, Addie, will begin her new mascot duties in January. She is the first female bulldog mascot in school history.

Michael Katz: 208-377-6444, @MichaelLKatz

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