The Other End of the Leash: Life as Griff’s Mom

You know what they say: behind every great live mascot is a great Live Mascot Director.

In the case of Drake’s favorite bulldog, Griff, that’s Erin Bell. Here’s a look into Erin’s life as Griff’s mom:

Balancing Act

Erin is the mother of two kids (almost 3-year-old Carter and 1-year-old Sydney) and two bulldogs (Griff & Magoo) and the wife of Kevin. Along with being responsible for Griff’s social life, Erin works in Polk County as a public health nurse on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. She provides care to underinsured or uninsured adults in their homes.

Erin has officially held the Live Mascot Director position since October 1st, 2015; However, this isn’t Erin’s first rodeo. Her and her husband Kevin were the owners of Porterhouse—Drake’s beloved former live mascot.

Griff’s weekly demand varies throughout the year, but Erin estimates the pair are on campus about 4-5 times per week. “Some weeks are crazy busy and other weeks are not so bad, it kind of evens out,” says Erin, “it’s a balancing act for sure.”


Erin is the voice behind Griff’s wildly popular Twitter and Instagram accounts. Her approach to each platform is different. Erin uses Twitter to live tweet from the community events he’s at— “so if he’s got a commitment to be somewhere, that’s where you can see it.”

On Instagram, Erin tries to give the community a behind-the-scenes look at Griff at home (like when he naps on a pile of laundry). For her, creating the voice of Griff comes effortlessly. “These dogs have so much personality… I just tweet or Instagram what I swear he would say.”

One of Erin’s favorite Griff moments came from Drake University hosting the Democratic Debate last November. Griff and his patriotic tie effortlessly grabbed the attention of media covering the event on campus and the hashtag #VoteGriff started trending on Twitter.

How she shares the (Griff) love

Erin loves that Griff has the ability to unify the Drake community and thinks it’s important that everybody who wants to interact with Griff gets that opportunity. She explained, “I try not to say yes or no based on the size of the event.”

In other words, it doesn’t matter if you’re the Drake Men’s Basketball Team or a small on campus organization—if you request Griff, he’ll likely show up.

Erin proudly shared that Griff was certified as a therapy dog this past summer. Thanks to the certification, Griff is now able to interact with Special Ed students at Delaware Elementary once or twice a month.

After a long day…

When Griff gets home after a long day of charming those in the Drake/Des Moines community, his first thought is food. “He keeps us on schedule with that, he’ll start jumping around and dancing around the house trying to remind us to get him his food.”

Griff’s favorite food? “Anything and everything,” not excluding pacifiers.

Nap time is priority #2. Endurance isn’t necessarily Griff’s strong suit, so one of the first things he does when he gets home is head to bed for a good long nap.

For Erin? Well, there’s “usually about 100 other things that still need to be done” when she gets home. If only we could all live the dog’s life.

The best part about being Griff’s mom?

Erin loves that Griff has the ability to make people’s days by putting smiles on their faces and relieving stress. Seeing those candid reactions on campus and around the community is why she does it. “I think it’s really cool what a dog can do.”

She claims to be my number 1 fan. I think she just might be!

A photo posted by GRIFF (@drakeugriff) on

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