George Tirebiter was the unofficial mascot of the University of Southern California in the 1940s. When a stray dog was discovered by a group of USC students at Currie's Ice Cream parlor, one student remarked that the dog looked like a Navy V-12 student named George Kuhns. Thus, the dog was dubbed "George." He received the surname "Tirebiter" because he would bite at the tires of cars he chased down Trousdale Parkway, which bisects the campus. (Today Trousdale is only open to foot traffic.) His pastime ultimately led to his demise, as he was eventually run over and killed by a car in 1950. A public funeral was held on campus. The original George Tirebiter was succeeded by a handful of subsequent Tirebiters until 1957.
George became endeared to the student body when he bit the University of California Los Angeles mascot Joe Bruin on the nose at a home football game and chased after Oski the Golden Bear mascot of the University of California Berkeley at another home game.
In 2006, USC unveiled a statue celebrating the unofficial mascot's memory. The life-size statue portrays George with a small piece of chewed tire and is located at the south end of campus on Trousdale Parkway between the Mudd Hall of Philosophy and the Leventhal School of Accounting. George is facing Exposition Park and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum: the home stadium for USC Trojans football.
The plaque on the statue reads:
|“||George Tirebiter was a shaggy mutt who - for a few glorious years in the '40s and '50s - became a beloved Trojan mascot. No one is quite sure when George wandered onto campus, but his feisty personality made him a student favorite as he chased cars and bit tires along University Avenue, not far from where you stand. He was taken to football games in a limousine where he led the Trojan marching band onto the field, often wearing sweaters and odd little hats. He once drew the cheers of thousands when he bit the mask of UCLA mascot, Joe Bruin, on the nose. Rumor has it there is a transcript on file showing George with a GPA of 3.2 in such courses as Chasing Cats 101 and Biting Tires 270. Of all the great USC mascots, none had the bite of George Tirebiter.||”|
The protagonist of the Firesign Theatre album Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers was named George Leroy Tirebiter, after the dog, and that album's movie-within-a-play, "High School Madness," featured a boy named Porgy Tirebiter.
- ↑ Davis, Michael. "George Tirebiter." http://www.publicartinla.com/USCArt/tirebiter.html
- A Trojan Tail - 1998 Daily Trojan article about George Tirebiter
- Marking Time - 1999 Trojan Family Magazine article including a photo of George Tirebiter
- When Tirebiter was the big mutt on campus - Los Angeles Times September 27, 2009 article about George Tirebiter
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