What is Boxer?
"What is Boxer?" - a familiar question to many people at Pacific University.
Is it a dog? A dragon? Goat? Lion? Deer? Unicorn? Gargoyle? Is it a combination of these, and if so, which ones?
There are multiple theories about Boxer's true nature. Charles Lachman, the Curator of Asian Art for Jordan Schnitzer Museum at the University of Oregon, claims it is a "Foo Dog", or "Buddha Dog." Traditionally these dogs are actually representations of lions and grant mythical protection, serving as guardians to royal palaces, temples and tombs.
Dean Croshere, an alumnus of Pacific who did research for his senior project documentary on Boxer, claims that it didn't make sense for Boxer to be a foo dog. While there are similarities in looks, foo dogs are large, come in pairs, and generally guard buildings. Croshere believes Boxer is a representation of Suanni, the eighth son of Dragon, citing WOFS
"The 8th son SUANNI resembles the resplendent lion as he is usually drawn with the mane and body of a lion. He rarely moves so he is usually shown stationary. He has a preference for sitting quietly and observing. His golden body is enhanced with flames. He is often shown sitting on top of incense burners and candle stands. His presence brings knowledge and wisdom and he also ensures that the sons and daughters of the family will all look attractive." - Feng Shui World (September/October 2006).
However, according to another source, Suanni is just another name for the Guardian Lion - the same as a Foo Dog.
Another term used to describe Boxer is "qilin" (pronounced chee-lin, or ki-rin), which is a mythical Chinese creature with a lion-like stance, a unicorn-like horn and deer or ox hooves. Lachman believes Boxer is from the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). During this period, qilin are often represented with a dragon head, fish scales, ox hooves and a lion's tail. Qilin are good omens, said to bring wisdom and prosperity to whomever they watch over.
We will never know what Boxer is for certain, but we do know what he represents: Pacific's school spirit and pride. His mysterious origins only enhance his uniqueness and keep his legend alive.