Michigan State’s Zeke the Wonderdog III died unexpectedly on Friday night, Scott Westerman, the school’s associate vice president for alumni relations, posted on Facebook.
Zeke III is the fourth member in a series of frisbee-catching dogs that have been performing at Michigan State football games since the 1970s. He debuted in September of 2007.
Here’s the statement from Jim and Terri Foley, the dog’s trainers:
Zeke the Wonderdog unexpectedly passed away last night at around 11:45pm. We did halftime at women’s game last night. He was moving real slow in his boots and so did not perform! He pranced into the Vet office yesterday at 6am for a bath like he owned the place. We got home from game at 11:15pm and he jumped out of crate and went in house, did not want food, began staggering. We took him to Animal Hospital 30 miles away and he passed on the way. The Vet believes there was a tumor in stomach area that didn’t show up in recent blood work or urine test that bled into stomach. I wanted to know cause so she checked stomach and blood was there. He went really fast. Never showed any signs of pain.
Zeke I debuted at the Rose Bowl in the mid-1970s (Michigan State wasn’t playing). The athletic department invited him and trainer Gary Eisenberg to perform during a home football game. Zeke I performed until 1984, then the tradition took an 18-year hiatus since it was revived in 2002.
In 1981, coach Darryl Rogers called Zeke I the best receiver in the Big Ten and awarded him a football letter.