Ludwig’s Fountain


Ludwig’s Fountain

Sproul Plaza

In the early 60s John Littleford, a UC engineer, brought his dog Ludwig to campus with him. Soon after the Student Union complex and plaza opened in 1960, Ludwig began playing in the Sproul Plaza fountain while Littleford worked. Ludwig also slept, graciously accepted food when offered, and chased tennis balls thrown by students and faculty. Each day at 5:30 the dog returned home with his master. The German short-haired pointer whose full name was Ludwig von Schwarenburg quickly became so widely associated with the fountain that the Regents named it after him, making it the first location on campus to be named after an animal. The name stuck. In his 1965 article about Berkeley activism in The Nation, Hunter Thompson wrote of activists on the walk near “Ludwig’s Fountain.”

Before the days of the Free Speech Movement (FSM) and Holy Hubert Lindsey’s open-air pulpit, Sproul Plaza was Ludwig’s domain. He remained an imposing presence even when others took over the plaza. W.J. Rorabaugh in Berkeley at War reports that Ludwig faithfully listened to Holy Hubert when he began preaching. Curt Mekenson, in his description of the 1964 Sproul Plaza police car occupation, blogged: “I situated myself on the edge of the fountain next to the Student Union and idly scratched the head of a German Short Haired Pointer named Ludwig while I listened.”

In the 60s Ludwig came close to being elected student body President. Campaign buttons proclaiming “I Like Ludwig” were widely distributed as the committee supporting his candidacy argued that if elected Ludwig would usher in an era “in which student government would at last be given the leadership, courage, and depth of vision it desperately needs.”

While visiting campus both Head Start and Job Corp founder Sargent Shriver and England’s Prince Philip were introduced to Ludwig. When Ludwig wandered onto the platform while he was speaking, University President Clark Kerr commented, “You see who really runs the campus.”

Ludwig’s owner moved in 1965 and the dog’s time at the fountain ended. An AP story about Ludwig moving to Alameda was carried in papers throughout the United States. Ludwig’s portrait was hung in the Student Union and the alumni magazine issued a proclamation naming Ludwig “Friend of the famous, hero of coeds, and acknowledged power behind the University.” “Ludwig Day” was celebrated at the Cal-Notre Dame game in Memorial Stadium on September 18, 1965 when student body president Jerry Goldstein led 70,000 fans in singing “Auld Lang Syne” to Ludwig.

Contributed by Tom Dalzell, 2014

  • Ludwig in his Fountain, photo (1984) Daily Californian

  • Ludwig, photo Daily Californian

  • Ludwig welcomes Roger Heyns as UC Berkeley's new Chancellor (1966), photo Blue and Gold

Photo credit abbreviations:
BAHA: Berkeley Architectural Heritage Assn.
BHS: Berkeley Historical Society