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Utah anti-litter dog's gone to hound heaven

Published: Thursday, April 26 2001 4:55 p.m. MDT

In 1989, veterinarians told Dan Davis his dog, Hoover, probably could live only a few years longer, at most.

The popular canine star lived another 12 years. Suffering from the ravages of extreme old age, he was euthanized Sunday, leaving a big gap in his owner's life. The remains were to be cremated, and Davis hopes that people interested in memorializing the amazing dog will contribute to the Humane Society or to "the volunteer working dogs of Utah."

At his death, Hoover was more than 16 years old — more than 100 in human terms, if each year of a dog's life counts as seven for a human.

Not only were those unexpected years a bonus for Davis, they were productive as well. Trained as a rescue team, Hoover and Davis served with Salt Lake County Search and Rescue and with local ski resort avalanche responders. When Hoover reached 12 years of age (84 in human measure), he finally was retired from that service. He had been involved in at least 11 effective life-saving rescues over the years. He was trained to cling to Davis' back while the man skied down the mountain.

"He couldn't handle the winters and that much activity any more," said Davis of Hoover's late "retirement."

Many Utahns came to recognize the talented pooch from his film roles, particularly as "Fuzz" in the movie "Little Heroes." But it was his role as a "spokesdog" for an unlittered Utah that endeared him to most Utahns. Teamed with actor James Andrews, Hoover was the hero in the "Don't Waste Utah" campaign in the early '90s, showing the humans in the TV ads how to keep litter in its place.

Hoover was given to Davis as a gift from a friend who obtained the pup from the Utah Humane Society.

"I called him a purebred American mutt," Davis said, but the most likely breeds in Hoover's background were German shepherd and golden retriever. Because of his association with Hoover, Davis was inspired to create an "animal talent agency" to provide animal talent to people making films in Utah and elsewhere. Besides the monumental skills that endeared Hoover to many fans, he also learned some of the usual cute dog tricks. When Davis trained Hoover years ago to fetch his newspaper, the feisty little animal went around the neighborhood collecting all the newspapers he could see. Davis had to made the rounds of his neighbors returning their papers.


E-MAIL: tvanleer@desnews.com

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