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Top Dog: Lugnut the bulldog seems at home as MHS mascot
Lugnut, an English Bulldog, watches the Martinsville High School Bulldogs play football from the sidelines on a recent Friday night. Holding Lugnut’s leash is his owner, Todd Turner of Martinsville. Turner says Lugnut — whom he described as “60 pounds of spoiled rotten” — is friendly and gentle. (Bulletin photos by Mike Wray)
Lugnut the bulldog is only about a year old, but already he is becoming a local celebrity.
The Martinsville High School (MHS) mascot is a popular attraction at school sporting events and, frequently, elsewhere on campus. His owner, Todd Turner, said Lugnut gets attention basically everywhere Turner takes him.
Lugnut always is friendly with people, including those meeting him for the first time, and he enjoys playing with other dogs, according to Turner and other people who know the dog.
He never has met a stranger, it seems.
Brown and white with a big red splotch on his face, Lugnut is “60 pounds of spoiled rotten,” Turner said.
His weight is a little more than the average weight of English bulldogs, which is between 50 and 55 pounds, according to websites about the breed.
Turner estimated he takes Lugnut to MHS about seven or eight times a week.
Visitors at sporting events, as well as athletes and cheerleaders — including those from opposing teams — often want to play with him, Turner said.
MHS athletes sometimes rub Lugnut for good luck, he added.
Lugnut also likes to march with the band.
“He just walks along in front (of band members) like ‘this is where I’m supposed to be,’” Turner said.
Some of Lugnut’s visits to the school are in the morning around the time classes start. Students, including some who used to be afraid of dogs, will call his name. He comes and plays with them, according to Turner.
“The kids really enjoy having him around,” including ones who never have had a pet, said MHS Principal Angie Weinerth.
“Teachers like him as much as the kids do,” Turner said.
“Bulldogs” is the nickname of MHS’ student body and athletic teams. For that reason, Weinerth said, she thinks Lugnut’s presence fosters school spirit.
“He’s a very relaxed dog,” she observed, and she thinks that helps to relax students, which can enable them to learn more easily.
Turner and his wife, Melissa, said they take Lugnut most everywhere they go, except for restaurants. Public health laws prohibit canines, except for dogs trained to assist people with disabilities, from entering eateries.
Many businesses invite him inside, though, and some give him dog treats, Turner said.
Turner works as a grave digger for local funeral homes. He said that after some funerals he has worked, mourners have seen Lugnut in his truck and have “gone wild” over him. They have gone to the truck to play with him.
Afterward, “they’re not upset anymore,” Turner said.
Melissa Turner described Lugnut as being “like a third child” to the couple. They have two children, Caitlydn and Cody. Cody is a sophomore at MHS and on the school’s wrestling team.
Wherever Todd Turner goes, expect to see Lugnut, too.
“If I leave the house, he’s got to go,” Turner said, or else “he’s whining.”
Turner said the only times Lugnut has seemed a little agitated occurred when he saw someone else sitting in the truck’s passenger seat. He signaled his aggravation by making blowing noises.
He typically is very patient, Turner said.
Lugnut is a purebreed — Lugnut Sparkplug Turner is his registered name. The family bought him from an Ohio breeder around February, when he was 4 months old, Turner recalled.
The name, which Cody Turner came up with, alludes to the family’s involvement in go-kart racing.
After bringing Lugnut to Martinsville, Todd Turner asked to bring the dog to MHS. That is how Lugnut’s special relationship with the school got started.
Want to meet Lugnut? When visiting the school, just look for a man leading a bulldog on a leash. The pup will be glad to make your acquaintance, and maybe even shake your hand.
Lugnut often wears school jerseys at MHS sporting events, and he recently wore a tuxedo to homecoming. The clothes were made by Casting Logos.
Students are designing and building four doghouses for Lugnut. Weinerth said that when the houses are finished, students will vote on which one to keep, and Lugnut will be able to use it — when he wants to, of course — when he is on campus.
The other doghouses will be donated to the Martinsville-Henry County SPCA, Weinerth said.