New Zeke the Wonder Dog to wow crowds
Beloved Spartan Zeke (II) the Wonder Dog performed in his last halftime show at Spartan Stadium on Saturday, but the tradition lives on.
Zeke II’s owners, Terri and Jim Foley, wanted to retire MSU’s favorite Frisbee disc catching canine on a high note.
“I didn’t want him to be missing Frisbees in his last performance,” Jim Foley said.
But MSU fans will not have to experience life without a Zeke the Wonder Dog halftime show.
The Foleys have been training a 21-month-old yellow Labrador for the past 15 months.
The Holland, Mich. couple wanted to make sure he would be ready come Zeke II’s retirement.
The yellow Labrador’s “common name” is Boo Coo, however, at the halftime show this coming Saturday he will be answering to Zeke III.
“I’m nervous because I’m going from a senior dog I can rely on for every move,” Jim Foley said. “Zeke II is very well trained and solid, and Zeke III is rambunctious. But (Zeke III) is going to do a lot of tricks Zeke II didn’t do.”
The Foleys are excited for Zeke III to make his debut on the football field alongside some other new MSU additions.
“It makes sense – new coach, new team, new dog,” Jim Foley said.
Zeke II’s eyesight is a main reason for his retirement.
The Labrador mix is still able to run fast and retrieve Frisbee discs, however, it is hard for him to see inside the stadium with the sun and the crowd, Jim Foley said.
“He is healthy but like any 10-year-old dog, his eyesight is not as strong as it once was,” said Dr. Loic Dejardin, an orthopedic surgeon at MSU’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
Dejardin first met Zeke II in November of 2006 when he performed surgery on the anterior cruciate ligament in the dog’s knee. He has remained in close contact with the wonder dog ever since.
“(Zeke II) is a known entity on the football field. He’s a great patient and a great dog. We love him,” Dejardin said.
Dejardin has become very close with the Foleys ever since the operation.
“I don’t have much chance to go on the football field, so when Mr. and Mrs. Foley called and invited me to (Zeke II’s) retirement game, I was excited,” Dejardin said.
Dejardin was happy to have the pleasure of throwing a Frisbee disc for Zeke II during his last halftime show at Spartan Stadium.
Spartan fans are excited to cheer on Zeke III at Saturday’s football game.
One fan who is particularly excited for the new wonder dog’s debut is Gary Eisenberg, the original Zeke the Wonder Dog’s owner.
“I’m excited about Zeke III because he’s a yellow Lab (like the original Zeke), and he’s young and in his prime,” Eisenberg said. “I’ve met (Zeke III) once. I’m going to work with him this coming Saturday before the game.”
The Foleys are grateful for Eisenberg’s help with Zeke II.
“(Eisenberg) has a lot of input as to how he trained the original Zeke … we look at him as our adviser as far as training goes,” Terri Foley said.
Eisenberg passed down his knowledge from the years he spent on the field with Zeke I.
“The thing I learned in my days at Spartan Stadium is how to get as much entertainment into two minutes as possible,” Eisenberg said.
Just like Zeke II, Zeke I retired when he was 10 years old.
Zeke II and Zeke III love to dive for rocks when they swim together three times a week.
“Sometimes Boo Coo (Zeke III) stays underwater for such a long time … I just sit there wondering when he’s going to come up,” Jim Foley said.