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Despite loss, Battle football fan has bark

Saturday, September 7, 2013 | 12:56 a.m. CDT; updated 3:02 p.m. CDT, Saturday, September 7, 2013
The Battle Spartans lost their home football game Friday night to the Hannibal Pirates, 42-27.

COLUMBIA — Cammie is a 6-year-old, 7-pound long hair Chihuahua, who watched Battle football lose 42-27 to Hannibal on Friday.

She's all ears and all smiles and has a neatly styled coat that's a mishmash of colors: light shades of orange, gold and brown. Her pink collar is barely visible through her fur, though you can't miss her Spartan-blue leash.

Cammie is both house-broken and turf-broken, meaning that she knows not to pee on Battle's football field, her "mom" and color guard director Christina Thalhuber said. And those potty training perks come in handy when Cammie takes the field during halftime, performing her duties as unofficial mascot, sitting obediently and watching the color guard and marching band perform.

"Cammie's very well trained. She knows the difference between turf and grass — not to go on the turf, but go on the grass," Thalhuber said. "She can march with the band, like if they move she moves. She knows how to dodge flags, the drum line, things like that."

At the half, Cammie escorted the band, the color guard and Thalhuber onto the field. She watched as the color guard performed its routine, set to the musical theme "Village of Sparta," an adaptation of Gustav Holst's "Mars" movement.

At the start of the third quarter, Thalhuber retreated to a steep bank on the far side of the home stands. Underclass color guard members Cat Harris, Theresa Campbell, Lily Nowack, Justine Pritt and Lauren Wilson accompanied her.

The girls sat in a circle on the bank, their jazz-shoe-adorned feet tucked under their knees, the stadium lights reflecting off the gold sequins on their uniforms. The scoreboard sat behind them.

Cammie had been handed off to someone else and was hanging out with the band in the stands. The girls began talking about their mascot.

She's "a Chihuahua that's our guard dog," Pritt said.

"Chihuahuas can be pretty tough," Thalhuber said. "Those little dogs, they don't know how small they are. If somebody comes after 'em, they'll let 'em know, you know?"

"She never pees on the turf," Campbell said. "Like, if we're at band camp, she goes off the field and pees somewhere else.

"She listens good, especially to her mother … and her father."

As Campbell spoke, the game announcer came over the loudspeakers and said that Battle had ripped off a big run, taking the ball all the way down to the Hannibal five-yard line.

"We're actually trying to get her a color guard uniform to match along with the rest of us. She had one at Rock Bridge so we figure she might as well have one here, too," Harris said as the rest of the girls laughed. 

The speakers blared, announcing a Spartan touchdown. The score tied the game 20-20. The crowd went wild.

Harris pointed out her mother, Jacque Bledsoe, who was sitting in the stands. Bledsoe said she was "used to being volunteered" and that she's been making costumes for a long time.

Bledsoe said she probably wouldn't need much material for Cammie's color guard uniform.

"Oh gosh, probably not even a half a yard. I probably already have gold sequins at home," she said.

As the drum line cranked up behind her, Bledsoe said that Cammie would not be the first animal she's costumed. As a matter of fact, she's made dresses for her neighbors' pet rats and made coats for her family's hunting dogs.

After the game, Spartan volleyball players Lauren Hager and Paige Robb talked with their volleyball team managers Brittany Brown and Katilin Huskey.

As the score disappeared from the scoreboard, the girls discussed Cammie.

"It's a supporter," Robb said, admitting that she didn't know much about the dog but that she'd noticed her on the field.

Huskey said that most of the student population was aware that there was a dog on the field. But, there's also another dog on campus. Apparently one of the school counselors owns Bella, a Shih Tzu who's blind in one eye and walks around school.

Principal Kim Presko confirmed Bella's existence and Cammie's status as an unofficial mascot. Bella, like Cammie, apparently gets spirited for game days, wearing bows in her hair and a cheerleader outfit from time to time.

Like the students at Battle, the dogs are also coming into a new environment and making it their "home."

As fans filtered out of the stands, Cammie walked with the band out of the bleachers. She'll be back for the next home game. And she won't pee on the turf.


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