KODAK, Tenn. (WATE) — For most owners a dog is more than just a pet, they’re family. That scenario is oftentimes no different for sports teams either.
The Tennessee Smokies have been on the search since Sept. 6 searching for their groundskeeper’s dog, leaving countless fans, crew members and team players heartbroken.
If you’ve been to a Smokies game at all in the past eight years, you’ve probably seen Hound Dog, and by now you’ve likely seen the social media postings describing what he means to the crew, and asking for the public’s help in bringing him home.
“Awful I know a lot of people here feel awful as well,” Hound Dog’s owner and Tennessee Smokies’ groundskeeper Eric Taylor said. “He’s just … our best friend.
“There are a few of the vendors here that have a great relationship with him — I know the people in some of our other stands tend to try and give him a little bit more food than I want them to give him but it’s hard to tell those guys no. It’s hard to tell him no as well.”
On Friday there was a glimmer of hope when a woman in the nearby River Islands neighborhood spotted Hound Dog on her home security camera.
“But we really haven’t had any leads since Friday,” Taylor explained.
From the front office staff to the president of the company, the moment word got out that Hound Dog was missing, Taylor says they dropped everything to start searching and spreading the word.
“It’s more than a 100% effort,” Taylor said.
The Smokies’ broadcaster even put up season tickets as a reward, as did the president of the Smokies and one of their vendors who added $250 cash. One woman went as far as offering one month of free rent/mortgage for the return of Hound Dog.
“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 said. “I know a few of the girls here have treats on their desk for him every morning so he makes his rounds. … We want our friend back.”
To say Hound Dog is a part of the crew doesn’t do the relationship justice, he’s family.
“If I go to the store he goes to the store, if I go to work he goes to work, if I take a shower he lays in the bathroom,” Taylor said. “I mean a lot of these people can attest, he does not leave my side.”
The biggest of rewards comes from Taylor who is offering $500 a month for one year. If you think you know where Hound Dog is Taylor wants you to contact him directly at 865-363-7472.