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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Unbearably adventurous: One stuffed animal’s travels in the US

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    Hector O’MacSavage is no average bear. Hector is a world-traveling bear.

    The American Airlines plane trip from Ireland to Chicago, Ill., was quite comfy for all nine inches of Hector. The stuffed bear sat respectfully in his seat, buckled up for safety, warm in a green jumper bearing the words “”I shamrock you.”” To kill time during a layover in Chicago, Hector started modeling. Sam Dowzard, Hector’s constant travel partner and a non-degree-seeking exchange student at the UA, manned the camera. Thus began a tradition and, soon after, the formation of a Facebook page and the solidification of a yearlong inside joke.

    “”We took many pictures in Chicago because we got bored and Hector was something to keep our spirits up,”” Dowzard said. “”The Facebook seemed like the next step because there were enough pictures for him to be a real person at this stage. There are more pictures on his page than some people have. “”

    According to his profile, Hector is a 20-year-old native of Leitrim, Ireland. He enjoys “”The Jungle Book,”” “”Winnie The Pooh”” and the work of Bear Grylls. With 210 photos already posted, Hector has almost four times as many pictures as he does online friends.

    The idea for Hector came from Dowzard’s brother and cousin. The two have an Irish pig named Winston who wears a green top hat and a shamrock. On their many travels, they have taken photos of Winston with the people they met and the different places they visited. But Winston could not take the time to join Dowzard overseas. Dowzard’s friend Shirley introduced him to Hector before he left to study at UA. The two became inseparable companions.

    In the beginning of the year, Hector made many new friends.

    “”People thought we were weirdos,”” Dowzard said. “”I’m sure they thought, ‘I wonder, are they aware that that’s a stuffed bear?’ They always thought we were a bit simple. They couldn’t see the magic within Hector.””

    Having been denied a CatCard, Hector spent much of the football season sneaking into UA home games.

    “”Yes, he’s been to many football matches, and he’s been on the big screen twice,”” Dowzard said. “”In one game we went sufficiently mental enough for us to put him on camera.””

    Getting a taste for the limelight, Hector has also been seen thrust in front of the token neon skin-suit fans while cheering for the camera.

    Hector has had all the American experiences of his fellow Irishmen: toilet papering the girls’ room, squishing into a packed taxi, roasting marshmallows around a campfire, drinking beer until his clothes came off and ultimately finding his way into girls’ shirts. He’s even gotten a full tour of the Chi Omega sorority house.

    “”He’s a single bear, ready for action in a sexy pullover,”” Dowzard said. “”We live vicariously through Hector.””

    But it’s not all fun and games for Hector. After a night of partying, Hector passed out and was forgotten in a cab.

    “”We all got out and someone said, ‘Where’s Hector?’ And the last picture was him hanging up in the taxi,”” Dowzard said. “”So we had to ring up the taxi company to find the stuffed bear. Since then we’ve been a bit too protective.””

    “”It was the girls against the guys after that,”” said Jessica Hardagon, another of Hector’s Irish friends. “”We blamed them for bad parenting.””

    Since then, Hector has gone out far less. His last trip was a snowboarding trip in Colorado, though he stayed in Dowzard’s bag the whole time. His next adventure remains unknown. But he will always have a place in Dowzard’s life. In America, Hector represents a constant reminder of home.

    “”He’s the pillar of strength and comfort,”” Dowzard said. “”A reminder of the wisdom and the savageness of Ireland … the regal beauty. He keeps the childhood alive. We’re never too old to play with stuffed toys.””

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