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Smokey VIII, Vols football's most victorious dog, dies

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.