The NIU Alumni Association announced Monday that NIU’s beloved mascot Mission will retire in 2021, after nearly a decade of service. It was also announced that a Huskie puppy named Mission II will follow Mission to begin training as NIU’s mascot, effective immediately.
Born Dec. 11, 2011, Mission became NIU’s mascot in 2013, replacing longtime mascot Diesel, who died in Sept. 2015. Mission is a certified therapy dog, according to the NIU Alumni Association website, and has been a constant presence on campus, appearing at sporting events, university functions and local events such as beer tastings at Fatty’s Pub and Grille, 1312 W. Lincoln Highway. Mission even has a Twitter and Facebook page on which “he” posts content regularly, despite a lack of thumbs.
Mission II is not even a year old, with his birthday being July 6, according to WREX. While he’s still a puppy, Mission II has already started learning the duties of being a mascot from both Mission and trainer Lisa Bolland, who was responsible for training Mission when Diesel retired in 2013. The pair of huskies can be seen around campus, with Mission walking alongside Mission II, who is sometimes carried in a cart.
When asked why the pair of huskies are training together, Bolland replied “Dogs do learn from each other, and it's important for MiniMish to follow Mission's lead to emulate his polished behaviors. Also, they're just adorable together!” Mission has since posted about his new brother on Twitter with a photo of the pair and the caption “Twice the Mission, twice the fun.”
Mission II made his first public appearance at the Dawgma beer tastings 5 p.m. Tuesday at Fatty’s Pub and Grille alongside his big brother. The next local appearance by Mission and Mission II at these tastings will be 5 p.m. Sept. 24 at PJ’s Courthouse Tavern, 202 W. State St., Sycamore, according to the NIU Alumni Association website.
“Mission II’s training will be similar to that of a service dog,” Bolland said. “He will learn impeccable public access manners, how to both engage and relax in public, obedience exercises, and much more. For his work as the mascot, he will also learn camera skills and tricks.”
"Mission has set a very high bar in mascotting, and Mission II will be working very hard to follow in his footsteps,” Boland said in a Monday news release from the NIU Alumni Association. “I am so proud of Mission and the work that he's done as the official NIU mascot.”