The beloved bulldog mascot, Buddy 2.0, made her final rounds through the halls of Beaver Lake Middle School last Wednesday with her owner, Patrick Ford.
Ford is retiring after teaching P.E. and industrial education for the past 24 years. When the school first opened in 1994, students voted to have the school’s mascot be a bulldog. Ford jokingly suggested to his wife that he should get a live mascot. He was surprised that she agreed.
Buddy 2.0 has accompanied Ford to school every day for the past 12 years. Buddy 1.0, her predecessor, accompanied Ford for almost 13 years.
Ford said having a live mascot brought culture to the school.
“She brought instant culture to the school. It’s like how do you find yourself when you’re at a new school? You need a buddy to get through it,” he said.
To commemorate Buddy’s legacy, Ford commissioned to have her likeness cast in bronze by artists Katrina Toft, Ed Kroupa and the team of Two Ravens Studio in Tacoma, the studio that created the bronze “Ivan the Gorilla” statue for Point Defiance Zoo.
Ford needed to raise $8,000 to commission the statue. Over the span of nine months, friends, community members and alumni donated toward the cause. Over $5,000 was raised through Ford’s Fundly site.
Several contributors to the cause commented with their warm thoughts and memories of Buddy and Beaver Lake Middle School.
“Buddy has been an huge asset all these years to BLMS and the bronze is a great idea!” Lynda Nicholson said.
“Thanks to Mr. Ford for all the years of service to BLMS! I still cherish the memories of the years I spent there. Graduating class of ‘04,” Andrew Baghai said.
“Was part of the second-ever graduating class at BLMS. Buddy and Mr. Ford had an impact on so many lives. Thanks for your service to BLMS,” Kevin Kelly said.
“Buddy 2.0” was unveiled at the school last Monday.
“It was really cute,” Ford said. “I had her under a box with a bunch of question marks on it and we had a big fire drill and then announced on the field that we were going to be unveiling the statue. It was extremely heartwarming as the student body of a thousand and teachers walked by both the real Buddy and the statue.”
It was therapeutic for Ford to be just two feet away from Buddy as students and teachers poured love over her for the last 24 years.
Ford and Buddy have left an indelible mark on the school and its students.
“I’ve had so many students come up to me and say, ‘Oh, Mr. Ford, we’re going to miss you and Buddy! It just won’t be the same without you,’ but I’m glad that they’ll always have a little reminder,” he said.
Ford said the statue will be a reminder for the future students to be kind, nonjudgmental and to display unconditional love.
“In order to have a Buddy, you must be a Buddy,” he said.