Top dog: Marines welcome their newest bulldog, Chesty

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He’s only 9 weeks old but has already entered recruit training. That would be “Chesty,” the pedigreed English bulldog and future Marine Corps mascot, who arrived at Marine Barracks in the nation’s capital on Valentine’s Day.

The handsome and distinguished young Chesty will enter obedience school and canine “recruit training,” earn the title of Marine and be named the next Marine Corps mascot on March 29. His official duties include marching in myriad events, including the Friday twilight parades at the facility, looking tough but buff in his own custom dress blues.

Mascots and Marines have a long history, according to Marion F. Sturkey, who penned “Warrior Culture of the U.S. Marines,” published in 2001:

“Thanks to the German Army, the U.S. Marine Corps has an unofficial mascot. During World War I many German reports had called the attacking Marines ‘teufel-hunden,’ meaning Devil-Dogs. Teufel-hunden were the vicious, wild, and ferocious mountain dogs of Bavarian folklore.”

“Soon afterward a U.S. Marine recruiting poster depicted a snarling English Bulldog wearing a Marine Corps helmet. Because of the tenacity and demeanor of the breed, the image took root with both the Marines and the public. The Marines soon unofficially adopted the English Bulldog as their mascot.”

“At the Marine base at Quantico, Virginia, the Marines obtained a registered English Bulldog, King Bulwark. In a formal ceremony on 14 October 1922, Brig. Gen. Smedley D. Butler signed documents enlisting the bulldog, renamed Jiggs, for the ‘term of life.’ Pvt. Jiggs then began his official duties in the U.S. Marine Corps.”

But Jiggs gave way to Chesty, and many more Chesties after that.

“In the late 1950s the Marine Barracks in Washington, the oldest post in the Corps, became the new home for the Corps’ mascot. Renamed Chesty to honor the legendary Lt. Gen. Lewis B. ‘Chesty’ Puller Jr., the mascot made his first formal public appearance at the Evening Parade on 5 July 1957. In his canine Dress Blues, Chesty became an immediate media darling, a smash hit,” the author notes.

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