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Friday, March 17, 2006
Updated: March 20, 9:43 AM ET
Smokey VIII, Vols football's most victorious dog, dies

Associated Press

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Smokey VIII, the bluetick coonhound mascot with the most victories in Tennessee football history, died Friday from complications from high blood pressure and kidney disease, university officials said.

Still a pup when he started, Smokey VIII led the Volunteers onto the field and howled from the sidelines for eight seasons from 1995 through 2003, making his final appearance at the 2004 Peach Bowl in Atlanta.

The Vols compiled a 91-22 record, claimed two Southeastern Conference titles and won the 1998 national championship during his tenure.

"He served with distinction, weathered storms, cold and heat," said Earl Hudson, who owned the dog since it was two months old. "He came through it all real well and was always rearing to go. He was a great mascot."

Smokey VIII stepped down after being diagnosed in November 2003 with a nasal tumor. He received radiation treatment, then chemotherapy. He was given 13 months to live, but doubled that and lived to be more than 11 years old.

"He always came in with his tail wagging and a friendly howl," recalled Dr. Kate Stenske, his veterinarian. "He will be missed by all his friends at UT Veterinary Hospital."

Tennessee's line of Smokeys began in 1953 and is currently represented by Smokey IX.