KODAK, Tenn. (WATE) – Tennessee Smokies grounds crew dog and fan favorite, Hound Dog, died Tuesday after suffering a stroke, owner and head groundskeeper Eric Taylor announced.
Taylor made the announcement Tuesday on his Facebook page with an emotional tribute to his longtime companion. Hound Dog suffered a stroke over the weekend and the decision was made to put him down Tuesday morning.
You’ve probably seen Hound Dog if you’ve been to a Smokies game at all in the past eight years. He became an important part of the Smokies family for fans, front office staff and even visiting teams.
“I mean even for the opposing team, they look forward to seeing him. I know that he greets a lot of the front office staff when they come to work every morning,” Taylor told WATE in September when Hound Dog went missing for almost two weeks.
The importance of Hound Dog to the Smokies community was no more apparent than during the search. The Smokies’ broadcaster offered season tickets as a reward for the return of the beloved canine, as did the president of the Smokies and one of their vendors added $250 cash. One woman went as far as offering one month of free rent/mortgage for the return of Hound Dog.
“This would not have been possible without the amazing support of our community and fans. Thank you to everyone that helped along the way,” the Smokies said via its Facebook page after Hound Dog was found safe.
The Tennessee Smokies, a minor-league affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, play at Smokies Stadium in Kodak, Tenn.