As a middle school shop teacher gets ready for retirement, so does another beloved member of the Beaver Lake Bulldogs — their mascot, Buddy.
“In ’91 we planned the school, and it opened in ’93, so I’ve been here 24 years,” teacher Patrick Ford remembered.
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And through all of those years, Buddy the Bulldog has been there for Mr. Ford and his Beaver Lake students.
Before Buddy, he never really was a dog person. The idea of getting a bulldog started as a joke back when they were first building the new Beaver Lake Middle School on the Sammamish Plateau and deciding on a mascot. Mr. Ford assumed his wife would nix the idea. Instead, she surprised him by immediately jumping on board.
Despite the way he fell into it, he has no regrets about getting his first bulldog.
“Not after all this love I’ve seen over nearly a quarter century and what a dog does to a kid and to me,” said Ford.
Buddy the Bulldog at Beaver Lake
The first Buddy the Bulldog passed away about 12 years ago. The current mascot is actually Buddy 2.0.
Over the years, thousands of students have had the privilege of seeing Buddy at school every day. And the school has required a Buddy-specific permission slip for each and every one of them.
It’s never been a problem, despite allergies and other issues.
“Just because they sign the paper doesn’t mean they have to touch her,” said Mr. Ford.
Even some Beaver Lake students who were deathly afraid of dogs came to like having Buddy around. It probably doesn’t hurt that she’s a small, sturdy dog who really just wants to hang out in her cushioned wagon while the kids occasionally swing by to give her a scratch.
“She’s kind of actually really relaxing,” shared 6th grader, Blake. “She relieves a little bit of stress off, for me.”
Getting a bulldog was a given, since the school is the “Beaver Lake Bulldogs.” But Buddy’s name was specially chosen by Mr. Ford so that every student who came through his doors knew that they would find a buddy waiting.
After 24 years at Beaver Lake, Mr. Ford says this will be his last as a full-time teacher. He’ll be retiring in the spring and 12-year-old Buddy will be retiring with him.
Who will 6th grader Gianna going to miss more next year — Mr. Ford or Buddy?
“This is not a fair question!” she exclaimed. “They’re a package deal.”
Before he retires, Mr. Ford has one more gift he’d like to give the school: a life size, bronze statue created by the same Tacoma artists who crafted the statue of “Ivan the Gorilla” for Point Defiance Zoo. So then, as he puts it, “At Beaver Lake, you’ll always find a Buddy.”