Drake University fans—and dog lovers, too—are wagging their tails for Griff: My Life as Drake’s Top Dog, a memoir written in the beloved mascot’s voice by author Gary Porter.
In 2015, Des Moines was introduced to Griff, a champion English bulldog set to become the new live mascot for Drake University. It wasn’t long before the four-legged phenom captured the city’s heart. Griff is a social media star and a fixture at many Drake campus and athletic events; he’s campaigned for president twice and hosts the annual Griff Gives Back pet food drive. Now—after nearly five years of service—he is set to retire and pass the baton to his successor, Griff II.
Porter, a Drake alum, worked closely with Erin Bell, Griff’s mom and Drake University’s Live Mascot Program Director, to capture the bulldog’s unique personality. The book covers favorite memories of Griff’s time at Drake, accompanied by the adorable photos he’s known for on social media.
“Serving as Griff’s biographer has been both an honor and a labor of love,” said Porter. “My hope is that everyone who reads this book will come to understand the impact a lovable bulldog sauntering around in a letter jacket can have on a university.”
“I am thrilled to have Griff’s life so beautifully captured by Gary Porter through Griff’s own eyes,” added Bell.
The book has received an enthusiastic two paws up from early readers. “If we measure the quality of a book in part by its subject matter, then Gary Porter’s Griff: My Life as Drake’s Top Dog is destined to be a best seller,” said Marty Martin, President of Drake University. “If you love Griff the way I do—and who doesn’t?—then you need to get this book.”
“Every organization would be well served by a canine ambassador, and I can’t imagine a better one than Griff,” added Charity Nebbe, host of Talk of Iowa on Iowa Public Radio. “I’m so glad he is sharing his story with Gary.”
Nebbe will interview Porter about the book on June 17 at 10:00 a.m. Listeners unable to tune in live can hear the interview at iowapublicradio.org. Readers can also learn more about the book at facebook.com/grifftopdog/.
Griff: My Life as Drake’s Top Dog by Porter was published through the Write Place and is available for purchase from Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com. It will soon be for sale at the Drake University Book Store, Barnes and Noble in Jordan Creek Mall, and other local outlets. Porter will donate a portion of the proceeds from book sales to Drake’s Live Mascot Program.
Native Iowan Gary Porter graduated with an accounting degree from Drake University and went on to a long career as a college professor and textbook author. He is currently a Distinguished Lecturer at Drake and serves on the National Advisory Council for the College of Business & Public Administration. Gary and his wife, Melissa, support many animal causes, including Drake’s Live Mascot Program. His book Duffy: The Tale of a Terrier was inspired by the couple’s first shelter dog. Town Kid: Reflections of a Midwestern Boyhood recalls Gary’s time growing up in Greenfield, Iowa.
Drake University is a midsize, private university in Des Moines, Iowa, enrolling nearly 3,000 undergraduate and more than 1,800 graduate students. Students choose from over 70 majors, minors, and concentrations and 20 graduate degrees offered through six colleges and schools.