By Steve Roney
Some fans support their favorite team by attending games and sporting a team jersey; others paint their faces or decorate their homes with memorabilia.
Daniel Painter, of Norfolk, Va., took his fandom to another level: he had his dog groomed to look like Old Dominion University’s official mascot, Big Blue the lion.
With his dark, shaggy mane and a tuft of matching fur at the tip of his tail, Charles – a cross between a Labrador and a poodle – certainly looks the part.
Charles’ getup was convincing enough on Wednesday morning to prompt three separate 911 reports of a ‘baby lion’ on the loose, and an emergency headcount at the Virgnia Zoo in Norfolk – where both resident lions were accounted for.
The unusual story gained national traction in short order, and appearances on the Today Show, Good Morning America, and Anderson Cooper Live followed.
More than 43,000 fans on Facebook and almost 1,000 followers on Twitter later, Charles has become the unofficial face of the Monarchs – though that too is about to change.
At halftime of Old Dominion’s women’s basketball game against Delaware, Charles will be honored as an official Monarch.
Fans will be able to meet and take a picture with Charles before the game – and don’t worry, this lion neither roars nor bites.