Miami, Oklahoma High School has the most unique team mascot nickname for interscholastic athletics and activities in the United States. If not the most unique, MHS is tied for the first place...there are no other schools in the fifty states that can claim the proud, powerful WARDOGS as their official symbol.
Recent research by the Miami Chamber of Commerce and Miami High School historians unearthed that fact, plus a variety of additional information of interest to loyal Wardog supporters, MHS alumni, faculty, and friends.
The Wardog can be described as a ferocious animal, originally used in England for bull baiting, but gained its famous name from the Western Front French and Belgium trench warfare campaigns of World War I. The Wardog's conspicuous characteristics are a low-slung muscular body, a massive head with pendulous folds from jaw to chest, heavy wrinkles on the head and face, wide-apart forelegs and a short, straight, flat, fine-textured coat.
The first use of the Wardog name closely followed the conclusion of World War I. Precise verification of the exact date had not been found. However, what is known is that between 1919 and 1923, the Wardog name was accepted for official use by the athletic teams of Miami High School. The reasons appear to be two-fold.
Prior to 1919, MHS representatives were called the Demons. That name did not have universal appeal, primarily because of negative characteristics associated with an anti-Christ symbol in a predominately religious community. Plus, the Demon name is common. Many schools statewide and nationwide were using the Demon nickname. Something unique for MHS was sought.
The "wardogs" as they were called, were used by Allied forces during the First World War "trench" warfare phase to ferret out German and other Axis soldiers during an attack. American and British forces were the prime users of "wardogs" for this purpose. Most "wardogs" were English pit bulldogs, though other canines were employed.
Ferocious, aggressive, fearless dogs were chosen to be hurled into the German trenches to distract fire and route the enemy in the face of Allied infantry assaults. The effective use of the "wardog" tactic was positive in establishing several "breakthroughs" in Axis positions and, in essence, helped shorten the Great War. Although "wardogs" were a general part of Allied offensive tactics from Alsace-Lorraine to Ypres, their maximum effective use was in the Meuse- Argonne attack (between September 16 and 26, 1918), which was to end the war.
Early-day Miamians, evidently, were so impressed with the spirited, positive strength image of the World War I "wardog" that the nickname was adopted for all future generations of Northeastern Oklahoma students who would attend the secondary schools in Miami, Oklahoma.