Tom and Nancy Hazlett’s standard poodles Tiggy and Louie may not be decked out in stripes, but their fancy hairdos have certainly landed them in the LSU hall of fandom fame.
The fuzzy pups, whose names are short for Eye of the Tiger and Louisiana Saturday Night, can be found on campus most LSU game days. The Hazletts guide them around, sporting their iconic groom: the letters “LSU” shaved into their fluffy, beige hair. The Hazletts start them out around the John M. Parker Agricultural Coliseum and make their way around tailgates through the shade of the stately oaks. Fans stop to pet and pose with the pooches. The dogs have even been featured in many of LSU’s homecoming day parades.
“When it’s hot, we’ll go out for two hours,” Nancy says. “But if it’s a nice day, we’ll be out for five hours. I don’t think there’s anywhere we haven’t walked on campus.”
The tradition all started about 20 years ago with the Hazletts’ first poodle, Ben Jammin’ on De Bayou, or Ben. The name was a nod to the time the Hazletts spent in Jamaica and their home in Louisiana. For holidays, Nancy would shave icons, like a shamrock for St. Patrick’s Day or a heart for Valentine’s Day, into Ben’s hair. (Poodles, in fact grow hair and not fur.) After 9/11, Nancy shaved “USA” on Ben’s side.
When fall came, they decided to take him tailgating.
Tom and Nancy remember getting plenty of compliments that day. And the rest is hairy history.
Over the years, Nancy and Tom have housed five standard poodles. After Ben came Makin’ Roux for De Gumbo, also referred to as RouxD. Later came Against All Odds, or Ollie. Along with Tiggy and Louie, all five pups have made an appearance on LSU’s campus for game days.
Both Tom and Nancy agree that parading their pups has helped reignite their passion as Tiger fans. But, the pair also says they have a history of loving LSU long before they owned the poodles.
“We’ve been down here since ’79 (and) then our kids went to LSU, so we’ve been ingrained in it for a long time,” Tom says. “So we would have been (fans), but I think this has kept us certainly active.”
When these pups aren’t strutting through tailgates on an LSU game day or having a grooming session at the dog spa the Hazletts have built onto their home for the pups, Tiggy and Louie have another important job as therapy dogs. Tom and Nancy have made sure all their poodles have been certified therapy animals, starting with Ben. The couple and the dogs participate in animal therapy events through the Tiger Human Animal Therapy Service (Tiger HATS), which is sponsored by the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine. The events have brought the pups to hospitals, nursing homes and even the LSU Library during exam weeks. Tom and Nancy schedule their volunteering on weekdays so it won’t interfere with their other job on Saturdays in the fall.
Not only have these dogs brought joy to others, but they also are a constant light in Tom’s and Nancy’s lives. The pair love caring for their fur babies, and their children even refer to the dogs as their parents’ “empty nest children.”
Apart from all of their many appearances over the years, the Hazletts also adore cuddling up with their dogs on the couch for afternoon TV or watching them run around the backyard as they try to catch butterflies, turtles and other outdoor creatures.
“They keep us happy and content, and we hope they feel that as well,” Nancy says. “We are proud of them, as they have represented their breed well.”
And, after each day is done, whether the Tigers win or lose, the couple always welcomes their beloved poodles into their bed for extra snuggles. Find them on Instagram at @lsupoodles
This article originally appeared in the 2023 Tiger Pride issue of 225 magazine.