Home News Local News How did Robert Handel become ‘The Barking Guy?’

How did Robert Handel become ‘The Barking Guy?’

Mike Smith Photo Robert Handel has been a fixture at Artesia High sporting events for more than a decade. People know him as The Barking Guy.

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

ARTESIA — With his hitch in the United States Air Force about to end, Robert Handel decided he was going to live in his recreational vehicle full time.

He traveled across a good chunk of North America when he decided to buy a lot at SKP RV Park south of Artesia. That’s when he turned his radio on to look for a station that was carrying the Rush Limbaugh program in southeast New Mexico.

“I bought my lot in 2002 and I was looking for Rush and found him on KSVP (AM-990 in Artesia) and found Jim Wilburn,” he said.

Wilburn was the longtime radio voice of the Artesia High School Bulldogs. Handel heard his signature call during a Bulldog football broadcast.

“And that, my friends — is just another Bulldog touchdown,” said Handel, doing his best Wilburn impersonation. “When the Bulldogs came on, I always had it on and I listened until about 2006. I didn’t go to any games.”

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More than a decade ago, Handel attended his first Bulldog basketball game and he decided he was going to get involved with AHS athletics.

Handel became a fixture at Bulldog football games in 2007 and that’s when his alter-ego was born.

Handel morphed into “The Barking Guy” during a game in Carlsbad. He recalled the Bulldogs were down 10-7 at halftime.

“We had to kick off to Carlsbad to start the second half,” he said. “We did and they threw an interception and the crowd went wild and people were barking and I barked with them.”

Handel said the fans helped the Bulldogs take down their in-county rivals that night, “so when things happened, I started barking and I became “The Barking Guy” that day.”

Handel is a permanent fixture at all Bulldog sporting events. When the Bulldogs are heading out of town, Handel is there to send them off and it’s not just sporting events.

Handel has been known to show his support for the AHS band and kids participating in Future Farmers of America.

“Most of the send offs would be to Las Cruces or Albuquerque and if you know anything about the geography (and) about how long these trips are by bus, three to four hours to get to ‘Cruces or five hours to get to Albuquerque; it’s a long way,” Handel said.

“They’re going to hostile territory, they’re in the other teams house, so the send offs help them (to) know that somebody is behind them,” he added.

Handel said if he can’t make it to an out-of-town event, he can show his support during the send offs. “They know my best wishes are with them.”

“When the buses start rolling, I start barking and the kids just love it,” he said.

Handel grew up in Michigan and attended Western Michigan University. He went to college to be a computer programmer.

“Look at the 1970s, remember how bad the economy was?” he asked. “There were no jobs, I did the safe thing and got into the military.”

Handel tried to become an officer. “I washed out for some reason,” he said. “So I enlisted and I’m glad I did because I actually got to program the computers.”

He spent 20 years in the Air Force and retired as a master sergeant.

Handel is also involved with the Eddy County Republican Party as the first vice chair.

Handel was asked how long he plans on being “The Barking Guy.”

“Until I can’t anymore. I don’t have any intentions of leaving,” he said.

General assignment reporter Mike Smith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 307, or at sports2@rdrnews.com.


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