As soon as Reveille VIII arrives at the Administration Building on the Texas A&M campus, she's in demand for a photo shoot. Two smiling students have been following her for a block.
Daylon Koster, mascot corporal for the 2012 academic year, is amicable and patient while phones are fumbled and cameras are prepped.
"Probably anywhere from 15 to 50 times a day," Koster said of these Kodak moments. "It's hard for me to get to places on time with her. So I always try to leave with plenty of time to make sure I get there."
Koster guides her with gentle commands, and plays catch with her, using his garrison cap until she loses interest. Soon she's stretched out on a bench, yawning as a newspaper photographer clicks away on his camera. Reveille VIII has begun her fifth year as a living tradition at A&M. The American collie was 2 when she first arrived on campus in August 2008. Koster, a sophomore agriculture leadership and development major, took over as her caretaker in March.
"She's definitely a diva," Koster said. "Rev knows that she's famous and the first lady of Texas A&M. She commands presence wherever she goes and just assumes she can pretty much do anything."
The highest-ranking member in the Corps of Cadets is a normal dog, albeit an extremely pampered one. Koster says Rev gets groomed once a week and brushed before every event. She's under constant supervision by Koster or a fellow cadet in Company E-2.
Among her favorite things: a blue Frisbee, chasing squirrels and sleeping in a closet.
The tradition of Reveille was started around 1931, when a group of cadets hit a black and white mutt with their car and then took her back to the dorms. The story goes that she earned her name when she barked the next morning as Reveille, the morning bugle call, sounded. The second Reveille was a Shetland shepherd. Since Reveille III, the mascot has been a collie.
Company E-2 is responsible for Reveille, and one sophomore is chosen as the primary handler each year. The tryout process lasts the entire freshman year. Candidates are required to be knowledgeable about the tradition of Reveille, the Corps and the university. They also are judged by their character, and for how they present themselves.
"Effort level is a lot of it, whether it's during physical training, going to meetings, going to formation, or anywhere and anything that we do," Koster said. "A little bit of it is public speaking and overall sociability with other people, and meeting people - just being personable."
According to Aggie lore, if Reveille wanted to sleep in a cadet's bed, the cadet would have to sleep elsewhere - such as the floor. These days, she has her own bed, but Rev sometimes favors the closet.
"She likes laying on shoes for some reason, under the desk," Koster said. "She likes little coves and caves and things like that."
Reveille also accompanies Koster to his classes, and he says that what some consider a myth - Reveille getting class dismissed early - has an element of truth. The story goes that if a lecture is boring enough for Reveille to bark, then the students are not learning much, Koster says. So a professor might dismiss the rest of class to return another day.
"The only time she's really barked was the last three minutes of animal science," Koster recalled. "She was in the front and the professor was talking and doing body language of animals. She got really interested, so she barked just one time and the professor let everyone out. So that was really memorable."
A&M's move to the SEC has directed the national spotlight - including television commercials, print media and ESPN GameDay's arrival this week - on the campus and its traditions.
"It is a totally new audience for Reveille and Aggies, and it's pretty cool to be part of the experience," Koster said. "A lot of people don't know about the traditions at A&M, so to get them excited and reel them in has been great. I'm excited to be a part of the experience representing A&M."
Three other SEC schools have canine mascots. The University of Georgia is known for its English bulldog named Uga. (The university recently promoted its interim mascot, Russ, to Uga IX.) Mississippi State also has an English bulldog titled Bully XX. And Tennessee has a bluetick coonhound named Smokey IX.
"She does really well with other dogs," Koster said. "Allow them to meet, and they're best friends from there. I'm definitely sure that, especially going into the SEC, she'll make her appearances and meet the other mascots, and other campuses know who she is and what she represents."
One memorable meeting this summer was with a familiar foe: Bevo. Koster was invited to speak at a cattle showmanship camp in July at the Sunrise Ranch near Georgetown. That's also the home of the University of Texas' longhorn mascot.
"It was a surreal experience seeing the two of them, not in that game-day atmosphere," Koster said.
Reveille will earn her kibble and chew toys attending more games than normal this year, thanks to the SEC introduction. Rev and Koster would typically attend the home games along with an away game or two.
"We're still getting the logistics, but most likely 10 of the 12 games," Koster said.
She'll attract attention in all those visits, just like she does on her campus strolls and impromptu photo shoots with Koster. He says he finds enjoyment in the role and how it connects to the university.
"My favorite part about this entire thing is how it brightens people's day," he said. "When they see Reveille, all their stress disappears. They're reminded on how awesome it is to be an Aggie and how cool this university is. That's my favorite part about it, is just having people return to a kid again in spirit, forgetting all their stresses and getting to pet her and take a picture. ... She reminds students that they're at A&M and that tradition is alive and breathing every day."