Champ, the therapy dog

Published 4:58 pm Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Champ, the therapy dog, died peacefully on July 16 from complications of spondylosis. He was 10 years old.

Champ was found wandering the streets of Mississippi as a youngster, and was saved by Cathy Brooks of Mississippi Great Pyrenees Rescue. He had been eating garbage, had been hit by a car and was high heartworm positive. He was treated in Mississippi and came to live in Tryon with his humans, Dana Mayer and Emmy Summers.

Champ the therapy dog

He had been here only one day when he had to have his stomach pumped after learning the joys of counter-surfing. He ingested an entire rotisserie chicken, complete with foil, and immediately began his long and happy association with the wonderful staff at Landrum Veterinary Hospital.  He loved them dearly, and allowed many necessary indignities over the years with a reasonably good attitude.

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He paid the price again when he ate eight large frozen yeast rolls that were rising on the counter. He wrote about that incident and his subsequent distaste for hydrogen peroxide in his Tryon Daily Bulletin column.

Champ sailed through obedience classes but earned his Canine Good Citizen certification by the skin of his teeth, only deigning to “come” at the last possible moment. From there he went through more training and became a registered therapy dog with Therapy Dogs Inc. and continued his association with them until his death. He was excited when his therapy dog vest was produced, and was always the perfect gentleman while wearing it.

Champ loved his work. He visited the S.C. School for the Deaf and Blind, and for years he attended the Special Olympics hosted by Furman University to cheer on the athletes. His favorite places were local, however, and he loved visiting Laurelhurst, Laurelwood, Tryon Estates, White Oak, Magnolia Manor and a number of other assisted living facilities and hospitals.

He visited every school in Polk County several times to help spread the word about humane education. He loved seeing the kids and insisted on greeting everyone, including the shy ones who hung back. He attended many public events, did some costume judging and enjoyed numerous meet-and-greets with his many fans. Everyone loved the big, fluffy, white dog with the huge brown eyes, and he loved them back.

Champ was the official “spokesdog” for Foothills Humane Society, whose people and animals were always near and dear to his heart. He loved attending all the functions and festivals, especially the animal fair, and was a relatively good sport about his annual photo shoot with Santa. He wrote letters and articles for and about the shelter for years, and spoke with pride of the shelter in his monthly column in the Tryon Daily Bulletin.

Champ’s relaxed, friendly attitude, good manners and love of good company (not to mention food) ensured him friends of many species, excepting coyotes, for whom he held a profound enmity, and turkey vultures, who, quite simply, appalled him. He enforced a strict no-fly zone within a 500-yard radius of the house.

In addition to his humans, Champ leaves canine family Sunny, Nick and Benny GoodDog; Ginger, the “dog next door”; several sad but semi-relieved cats; and a host of friends and fans.  His huge heart and special spirit will be greatly missed.

Contributions in Champ’s memory may be made to Foothills Humane Society, 989 Little Mountain Road, Columbus, N.C. 28722.