Diploma and TV time meant a golden life for ORR mascot

Sep 26, 2017

She had a diploma from Old Rochester, and what's more, a family dynasty.

Troubles the bulldog became Old Rochester Regional High School's live mascot in 1968, but she lived a life that far exceeded what Sippican Week was previously able to find out about.

Her caretaker Ruth Jenney, who looked after the popular pup with husband Winfield, said Troubles was a fan favorite in school, a boost to scholarship funds, and a bonafide trophy winner.

"Capeway Looking for Troubles," as she was officially known, was born in Hanson, at Capeway Kennels. A pedigreed, blue-blooded English bulldog, she was registered with the American Kennel Club.

"One of the teachers," said Jenney as she reminisced on Troubles' origins, "decided that the school needed a real-life bulldog to go along with the mascot." And so, it was announced to the high school students that, if they brought in their nickels and dimes, a real bulldog would appear on campus.

The students complied. Altogether, they raised about $170, enough to buy Troubles. In 1968, the same year she was born, Troubles arrived at Old Rochester, ready to meet, greet and intimidate opposing sports teams.

During the day, Troubles slept in the janitor's closet, where was looked after by janitorial staff. But there was a problem. "Nobody had really thought about where she would go at night, or during vacations, when nobody was at school!" Jenney said.

At the time, she worked in the superintendents' office. "So the school asked my husband and I to take care of her."

Winfield Jenney was thrilled, his wife recounted. He had always loved bulldogs.

From then on, Troubles spent nights and weekends with the Jenneys. Ruth ferried her to school every morning and brought her home every night.

There was always a line of students waiting to spend some time with the sturdy little dog. "I'd have a student show up and ask to walk Troubles," Jenney said, "and off they'd go up and down the hallway. Then fifteen minutes later, another student would come by and ask to walk her!"

Troubles also received her own diploma one year, although Jenney couldn't remember exactly which year the diploma was granted. Troubles was walked up to the stage among the graduates and received her own award, in honor of her contributions to the school.

The Jenneys also showed Troubles, with her impeccable pedigree, in several dog shows. Her various ribbons were once showcased in the high school. It is unclear if the ribbons can still be found there; Principal's Assistant Aimee Fox, while searching the ribbons out, indicated that they may have been thrown out a decade ago, when the school suffered a serious mold problem.

Troubles also contributed to student learning, in a rather unique way. Her $170 purchase fee was a reduced price, requiring that she be bred at least once.

She was bred in 1969, and had eight puppies. The Jenneys drove to Hanson every Saturday to check on the puppies after they were born, back at Troubles' original home, Capeway Kennels. "We'd get there at 8:15 in the morning," Ruth Jenney laughed. "The poor kennel owners were sitting there with their coffee! But my husband just had to know those pups were okay."

Two puppies were selected by Capeway Kennels to return to the establishment, while five of the puppies were sold for prices of $200-$300, Jenney said. The money was delivered to the high school for scholarship funds.

Many of the puppies stayed within the tri-town. One male puppy was sold to owners in Rochester, where a story from the "Presto Press" mentioned that he had been renamed "Duke of Rochester," and often attended ORR football games himself.

The runt of the litter was Snowdrop, a mostly white female. The Jenneys kept her, after the kennel told them that she would likely die, Ruth Jenney reported. The puppy was underweight and tiny, but Winfield Jenney made sure that she would live. "He was intent on her living," Jenney said. Live she did, although she never quite attained the size of a regular bulldog.

Snowdrop accompanied her mother to football games, where the pair relaxed on the sidelines with their student fans. They even paraded around in fashionable "ORR" capes, which Jenney recalled crafting out of felt.

The duo remained in Mattapoisett for years; Jenney couldn't remember exactly when they passed, but she estimated that each dog was around for at least a decade.

"They looked gruff, but they were the sweetest, calmest dogs," she said. "We would be watching TV and they'd crawl into our laps and lay there, and be as happy as could be."