And though it may seem as though Traveler has been running around the Coliseum on Autumn Saturdays forever, he actually first appeared only in 1961.
Before that, believe it or not, USC’s mascot was a dog. Three different dogs, actually. And one of them was named "Tirebiter." He got hit by a car.
Saukko accepted the invitation and made his first appearance in the Trojans’ 1961 opener against Georgia Tech.
Saukoo would continue riding Traveler at USC games for the next 27 years, eventually retiring after the 1988 season. In the years since, several other riders have taken over his duties, including Saukoo’s stepson, Chuck O’Donnell.
Interestingly, however, and unlike Georgia’s famous Ugas—which have all been English bulldogs from the same bloodline—the Travelers haven’t even been of the same breed.
The Travelers all have the same job, though: Whenever USC scores (which, lately, has been often) Traveler and his rider (who wears a costume modeled after the Tommy Trojan statue on USC’s campus) gallop up and down the sideline while the famed USC Marching Band plays “Conquest.”
No, before there was the horse, there was a dog—a dog with the unfortunate name of "Tirebiter I." Tirebiter started walking the sidelines at USC in 1940, was kidnapped by UCLA fans in 1947 (but eventually returned to Southern Cal), and then suffered an early demise in 1950, when he got hit by a car. After Tirebiter, USC brought on three other dog mascots: George II served in the role from 1950-1952, George II in 1953 and George IV in 1957. Then Traveler arrived and that was that.