Michael Kaltenmark, left; and Evan Krauss explain Blue III's backstory and why the English bulldog is not allowed into Little Caesars Arena for the school's NCAA Tournament games.
Detroit – He is 65 pounds of muscle, swagger and serious street cred, has a wardrobe that includes a custom tux, a lab coat and a few Star Wars costumes, loves bath time and playing in a kiddie pool and has a smile and personality that never quit.
Butler Blue III, Butler University’s adorable, charismatic bulldog mascot, is not allowed inside Little Caesars Arena during the NCAA Tournament, per NCAA rules, but he flew here with the team, which advanced to play Purdue in a second-round game on Sunday.
But that hasn’t stopped Butler Blue III, also known as “Trip” — as in Butler Blue the third and the fact the team takes an abundance of 3-pointers. The tireless 6-year-old has been providing an entertaining social media tour of Detroit, while never turning away eager basketball fans who want to take a photo with him.
“He’s a prefect guy for the job,” said Michael Kaltenmark, a 2002 Butler grad and director of external relations for the school. Kaltenmark’s Twitter bio refers to him as Trip’s “father."
Trip lives with Kaltenmark, his wife and two sons, and Evan Krauss, a marketing specialist at his alma mater, handles the dog’s social media and video content. He also has helped designed Butler Blue III merchandise. Butler’s bookstore has a section just for Butler Blue III items, which include a bobblehead, mugs and a children’s book, “Good Boy Blue!” A Butler Blue calendar features glamour shots of Trip in various venues, and December’s photo shows him looking deliriously happy rolled on his back with multi-colored Christmas lights.
Butler Blue, who has his own vehicle called the “Butler Bluemobile” that includes his face on the hood of the car, has accounts on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. He has more than 30,000 followers of his verified account (@ButlerBlue3), and his fans enjoyed these gems this week.
“Unfortunately, due to NCAA rules, this is as close as I’ll get to the action this weekend. No matter, because I have plenty to keep me busy in the Detroit area. You can’t keep a good Dawg down,” Trip wrote. It was accompanied by a shot of Trip looking forlorn sitting outside Little Caesars Arena.
During Butler’s first game, Trip tweeted: “I’m watching @truTV right now and seeing plenty of room for a medium-sized canine mascot at @LCArena_Detroit. It’s a shame, but nothing new. I’m still making the most of these opportunities.”
Krauss and Kaltenmark, obviously, are the voice of Trip.
Blue III takes a drink of water.
“I ignore my personal Twitter,” said Krauss, who makes certain Trip has perfect light in every photo.
“We sacrifice our personal following for the dog,” Kaltenmark said.
“All my good jokes go to him,” Krauss said.
Kaltenmark and Krauss said they work their schedules around Trip’s schedule.
While Trip goes home with Kaltenmark, he’s with Krauss during the work day, because the Butler Mascot Program has become such a big deal. Trip is requested for weddings and birthday parties, and he makes appearances for a small fee, enough to cover the gas for the drive.
Some have asked to have Trip carry the wedding rings down the aisle.
“That’s probably not a good idea,” Krauss said, laughing. “He’s crazy.”
Also, he might eat the rings before they reach their destination.
Trip has achieved what Kaltenmark had hoped for him.
“He’s become a household name,” he said.
The two are honored to be part of the mascot program and work with Trip.
“We have to pinch ourselves,” Kaltenmark said.
“Every day I have to,” Krauss said, adding that when Trip appeared in Madison Square Garden for the Big East tournament earlier this month, they all had a special moment. “I looked up and saw him on the screen and said, ‘We made it, Trip.’”
Trip made a pre-tournament appearance at Hockeytown Café, where he was swarmed by fans of all the schools here, and has made the rounds in Detroit, taking pictures at all the local landmarks. His favorite spot, they said, was under the tiger statue at Comerica Park.
For a piece with Indianapolis sportscaster Dave Calabro on WTHR, Trip visited Lafayette Coney Island and American Coney Island on Saturday to determine the best hot dog, which was measured by how fast he ate them. Trip delighted customers and employees at both locations as he ate the Lafayette hot dog and bun in 12 seconds, and American’s in eight.
On Sunday, Trip will have to watch his Butler Bulldogs on television. If they advance to the Final Four, there will be special dispensation from the NCAA to allow Trip inside.
“It’s unfortunate because here you’ve got the greatest tournament, the greatest sporting event, and this,” Krauss said, pointing to Trip, is what makes college athletics unique, I feel like, and you can’t really show him off.”
But the NCAA Tournament’s loss has been Detroit’s gain.