Behind the scenes: Porterhouse’s family photo shoot

For Kevin Bell, LW’11, life with Drake’s live mascot is all about love — for Drake and for fostering rescued bulldogs

Porterhouse the bulldog lives an exceptional life.

After he was crowned Drake’s Beautiful Bulldog in 2009, the laid-back, friendly purebred quickly became a beloved icon. Whether chasing the ball own the court at the start of a Bulldog basketball game or taking a stroll on campus, Porterhouse attracted lots of attention. So much so that when his reign as Beautiful Bulldog ended, he was asked to stay on as Drake’s first live mascot.

“Our schedules are much busier with all of the Drake events Porterhouse attends, and it is definitely a new experience to have our dog recognized all over town,” says owner Kevin Bell, lw’11. “You wouldn’t believe how many people know our dog. It’s pretty crazy.”

Kevin Bell, LW'11, and his wife, Erin, with their bulldogs

Kevin and his wife, Erin, moved to Des Moines from Minnesota when he started law school at Drake. They entered Porterhouse in Drake’s Beautiful Bulldog Contest soon after. Porterhouse won on his fourth try, and life has never been the same.

Among the many connections that Porterhouse’s fame has brought, the one that changed the Bells’ lives most profoundly was with the Illinois English Bulldog Rescue.

“I received an email saying that they desperately needed someone to pick up a blind bulldog in an Ottumwa shelter,” says Erin, a public health nurse. “She was terrified and not handling the stress of the shelter well at all. I talked Kevin into fostering her. It was tough because he was right in the middle of his last year of law school, but he agreed.”

Soon Kevin found himself becoming as passionate about bulldog rescue as his wife.

“It happened pretty quickly,” Kevin recalls. “Once I saw the impact we could have on a dog’s life by simply taking them in, feeding them, loving them and nursing them back to health for a short time, I was all in.”

After that first dog, the couple has had at least one or two foster dogs at a time. In addition to their bulldogs Porterhouse and Magoo, the Bells came to adopt Candie, a former puppy mill mother rescued by the organization. The three Bell bulldogs now help the newcomers — many of whom have led bleak existences in puppy mills, been abandoned or even served as dogfighting bait — learn to snuggle, play and trust.

Kevin works in Sioux City as assistant Woodbury County prosecutor but makes it home on weekends to spend time with Erin, Porterhouse and the rest of their four-footed menagerie.

“All in all, life at home hasn’t changed a bit since Porterhouse was crowned,” says Kevin. “The couch is still his throne, and he continues to be as spoiled and loved as always.”

Jill Brimeyer

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