INDIANAPOLIS — They're the big dogs on campus.
"I likened it to having George Clooney on a leash and walking him around," said Butler Director of External Communications Michael Kaltenmark. "I couldn't get anywhere."
"What's going to be emotional is watching that hour of basically the most emotional year of our lives play out on the TV screen along with the rest of the country," said Evan Krauss, Butler Blue IV's handler.
Both Butler Blue III — better known as Trip — and Butler Blue IV — the university's current official mascot — are big hits on campus. But only one can wear the collar on game day.
The second season of "Dogs," a Netflix series, follows Trip's final year as the Bulldogs' mascot into the passing of the collar to Butler Blue IV.
"When it came time for Trip to retire, it stuck with a lot of people. People were very sad and upset," said Krauss. "It happens and it's just the lifestyle of this mascot program."
"It was not only a dog transition, it was a handler transition, and it meant that after a decade and a half of holding that leash, I was done," said Kaltenmark, who handled Butler Blue II and Butler Blue III. "I made it to the finish line as well, and that was also bittersweet. I've got a growing family, so it was time to do that, but it was a big part of my life for a long time, so it was tough."
Kaltenmark was involved in the live mascot program when it started back in 2000 as a student. Early last year, he passed the leash to his protégé, Krauss.
"If you would've asked me my sophomore year at Butler what I wanted to do when I grew up, I would've told you I wanted to be the handler of Butler Blue IV," said Krauss. "That was really a dream seven years in the making for me, but unfortunately for my dream to come true, someone else's had to end."
"There was no trepidation in handing off the leash to Evan," Kaltenmark said.
Trip and Blue are best friends, and their handlers stay close as well.
"He became more of a friend than I ever thought a supervisor or boss could ever be," Krauss said. "So much so that our families go on vacations together now. We have dinner with each other regularly."
"There's quite a few years between us, but we've become good friends and, frankly, we're like family," Kaltenmark said.
The second season of "Dogs" hits Netflix July 7.