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‘They didn’t expect to see a dog there’: band remembers ‘unofficial mascot,’ Edwin

| Friday, November 1, 2019

The beginning of the story is a simple one. 

In 2007, assistant band director Sam Sanchez made his way to San Antonio to adopt a rescue dog. While Sanchez was playing with one, another dog attempted to snag his attention. The then-2-and-a-half-year-old dog’s pursuits proved successful, and Sanchez made his way back to Indiana with his new companion, Edwin.

Photo Courtesy Sam Sanche

Edwin, assistant band director Sam Sanchez’s chihuahua-Boston terrier mix, died October 25. Sanchez adopted Edwin in 2007. The dog was a constant present at band functions and served as a mascot of sort for the group.

As the years passed, Edwin barked his way into many hearts and became an icon in the marching band community. He ran through the halls and greeted everyone he encountered with a yelp all while living with a heart murmur.

Last week, the half chihuahua, half Boston terrier’s story came to a close. Edwin died Oct. 25. 

Sanchez said Edwin never showed signs of his age or condition in his appearance, but toward the end of Edwin’s life, Sanchez would carry Edwin around in various ways, like in his jacket or wrapped up in his dog bed. The pair spent a lot of time together, and Sanchez said life without Edwin has been an adjustment.

“It’s like having kind of a kid with you for, you know, for that many years and you get used to having them and now it’s like, you can get up and go to the bathroom without having to look and see, is he there? Where is he? What is he doing?” he said. “It’s an adjustment. Sometimes it makes you sad, but, you just have to remember how many great years he had and what a great life he had. So I try to focus on that.”

Though Edwin was sick for the time most of the current band members have been around, students, including Notre Dame junior Eddie Donnelly, said they couldn’t tell the dog was sick.

“It’s important to note that I only knew Edwin for two-and-a-half years, and he was sick during all my years with the band,” Donnelly said. “The little guy was always jumpy. He was always happy. He was always excited to see people, yet he had this heart condition and was still happy was still a fun-loving pup.”

Edwin’s energy and excitement were evident from the first time Donnelly met him. He said his first encounter with Edwin was at the Ricci Band Rehearsal Hall during marching band registration.

“All of a sudden, this dog is barking in the distance, and then he comes hopping down the band hallway like ‘woof woof,’” he said. “Then I was greeted by Edwin, and then Sam Sanchez walked over, he was like, ‘Oh, this is my dog, Edwin,’ and I got excited because that’s my name. My name is Edwin. These past two and a half years, I’ve shared a name with the dog of Sam Sanchez. That was a point of bonding, not only with the dog but also with Sam.”

Sanchez said he never intended to frequently bring Edwin with him to work, but due to Edwin’s separation anxiety, the dog basically became another faculty member.

“For probably about the first six or seven years that I had him, I would actually take him with me, and he’d be there for all the auditions I would do for the drumline, the sight-reading auditions, he’d be sitting right there,” Sanchez said. “I’m sure that people were like, ‘Why is there a dog here?’ But he would come, he would just sit there on my lap and we would do the audition. He was always there for a lot of that stuff. He was actually always in the office for all of our staff meetings. He’s kind of like that dog on Bush’s Baked Beans and has all the secrets.”

Seeing Edwin at band auditions, Donnelly said, was a highlight of his time with the band.

“We all always have to audition for Symphonic Winds or Symphonic Band. Whenever I would be at that audition, it would be Sam, his camera and Edwin,” Donnelly said. “He would be videotaping us as we were performing our audition music, and Edwin would always be sitting on his lap. As I walked in, I would shake Sam’s hand and pet Edwin and walk out and do the same, and it was always cool to see Edwin there.”

Saint Mary’s junior Greta Minnema said she will always remember Edwin’s presence during rehearsal, especially since that was where she first saw him.

“My earliest memory of Edwin is when Mr. Sanchez had to lock him in a practice room because he wouldn’t stop barking while we were trying to tune,” Minnema said. “The funny thing about it was that he’d only bark when we were playing notes. He was completely silent when nothing was going on. A part of me thought he was trying to participate in the tuning with us.”

Though Edwin couldn’t be around during the entirety of band rehearsals due to the loud sounds, band members like Notre Dame senior Ashley Sullivan said they loved to see him around as if he were a part of the band.

“Sometimes, he would wander through the chairs during rehearsal or just kind of sit and lay down and just randomly start coughing or pop up out of nowhere. Sometimes he would love attention, sometimes he wouldn’t. But it was always entertaining to see,” Sullivan said. “It was comforting to see Edwin just walking around the band building as if he was a part of her own band part of our family.”

The band family extends to more than just those directly involved in the marching band. Sanchez said he’d leave Edwin in the care of other band faculty members when Edwin couldn’t travel with him.

“Our last administrative assistant, who passed away from cancer, she used to watch him sometimes when I would have to go on trips,” Sanchez said. “I’d always get text messages or pictures of him being dressed up before either St. Patrick’s Day or for Halloween or whatever it was. The look on his face was like, ‘Please come home now.’”

As Edwin roamed the halls, he would encounter many people, including those who might have never seen him before.

“I always laughed because I would take him outside and people would come out of the Intro to Jazz class,” Sanchez said. “Usually, there were some football players in there, and they would come out and you would have this, like a big like 250-pound lineman walk out, and Edwin would turn and bark and this guy would jump scared. I was always like, yeah, this dog is like eight pounds. But I guess they were just shocked because they didn’t expect to see a dog there.”

Even if he was unexpected, Sullivan said it was always fun to see a dog since she never had one at home.

“I also work in the band building, so sometimes I’ll just be here by myself, listening to music or going through music and stuff. Then I’ll just have Edwin come up next to me and just sit there and watch me like, ‘Oh, that’s cute,’” she said. “He would normally bark at me and not let me pet him, but he eventually warmed up. [He was] just a good all-around animal.”

Though he took time to become completely comfortable around new people, Edwin brought a different kind of energy to the building that was often refreshing for students, Donnelly said.

“Oftentimes we students just kind of rush in and just walk past each other like tunnel vision,” he said. “There’s work that we’re worrying about. There’s marching band that we’re worrying about. All this stuff that we’re learning. Then all of a sudden you see this dog just always happy. Just having that little reminder of happiness when you’re at the band building, which could oftentimes be a stressful environment, was nice.”

Edwin’s vibes will be missed by all who knew him, Sullivan said.

“It’s sad to see him go. We don’t realize how important that dog was to the whole band,” she said. “Having been here four years, we kind of forget that he is also a part of the band, too. He means so much to so many people over the past 12 years that he’s been here.”

The dog’s constant presence was something students looked forward to, Saint Mary’s junior Allison Okeley said. 

“Everywhere you looked, it was always like Mr. Sanchez would either have Edwin in his office or he’d be roaming around the band building. He was always there,” Okeley said. “He was always in our thoughts, because everyone knows about Edwin. It’s the same thing [now]. Even if he’s not there, he’s still always in our thoughts, especially now.”

Sanchez said he never anticipated for Edwin to become a fixture in the band community, but he’s happy Edwin’s presence could mean so much to so many people.

“I appreciate people’s thoughtfulness and that they’re this interested in Edwin,” Sanchez said. “I appreciate the band members over the years that have loved him and had a great time with him and that have appreciated having him around the building. It’s just really nice.”

He may be gone, Minnema said, but he won’t be forgotten.

“I’m probably going to remember the impact he had on everyone in the band,” Minnema said. “I know it seems silly to think a little dog could have that big of an effect on that many people, but he was part of the band family. Honestly, I’m pretty sure he was the band mascot. I’m sad the future members of the band won’t get to see him, but they’ll still get to hear all the stories about him.”

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About Maria Leontaras

Maria Leontaras is a junior at Saint Mary's pursuing a student-designed major in Interactive Journalism with minors in mathematics and Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. Maria serves as the Editor-in-Chief of The Observer when she isn't busy tweeting about movies and One Direction.

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