American Football Database
American Football Database

Zeke the Wonder Dog is the stage name of a series of Frisbee-catching dogs that have performed during halftime shows at Michigan State University Spartan football games since the late 1970s.

File:Zeke the Wonder Dog.jpg

The original Zeke, 1978


The original Zeke was a yellow Labrador owned by Gary Eisenberg, who as a junior at MSU in the mid-1970s competed with Zeke in the disc-catching national championships held at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Officials in the MSU Athletic Department noticed Gary and Zeke's success and in 1977 invited them to perform during a Spartan football game. They did so, and a new tradition was born.[1]

In 1978, head coach Darryl Rogers was quoted as saying Zeke was the best receiver in the Big Ten. He awarded Zeke a football letter, "to this day the only non-human to letter at Michigan State."[1]

After 1981, Zeke performed on a limited basis before his retirement at the age of ten in 1984. He died in 1987.


Keze (pronounced "Kee-zee"), no relation to Zeke, was a chocolate Lab and the runt of her litter; her small size made her a more agile performer than her larger "brother". Keze's name, the reversal of Zeke, was the result of "a contest run by the Lansing State Journal that received more than 12,000 entries."[1] She performed for a single season in 1981. The following year, she was hit by a car and killed.

Zeke II

After a hiatus of eighteen years, in 2002 the MSU Athletic Department revived the frisbee-dog tradition. Open auditions resulted in the selection of Dexter, a black Lab owned by Terry and Jim Foley of Holland, Michigan. Dexter, as Zeke II, was an immediate hit with MSU alumni who remembered the original Zeke the Wonder Dog, and quickly established himself with current MSU students who were likely too young to remember Zeke. Handled by Jim Foley, and with training guidance provided by the original Zeke's Gary Eisenberg, Zeke II performed throughout the 2002–2005 football seasons.

In December 2005, Dexter was admitted to the MSU Small Animal Clinic for an intestinal obstruction caused by having eaten a substantial amount of carpet at his home. Thanks to the efforts of Dr. Bryden Stanley and her staff, who completed a 90-minute abdominal surgery, Dexter's life was spared.[2]

Zeke II returned to halftime action for the 2006 football season, but prior to the November 11 game against Minnesota he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right rear knee and was again admitted to the MSU Small Animal Clinic. Dr. Loic Dejardin, an orthopedic surgeon at MSU’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital, repaired the damage. Two months of rehabilitation followed.[3][4]

In 2007, Zeke II began to show signs of age, particularly with cataracts that were beginning to cloud his eyes and hinder his ability to see the disc. At the age of ten, Zeke II performed his final show on September 8, 2007, completing a brief two-minute routine while the Spartan Alumni Marching Band played the "Zeke the Wonder Dog Medley"—consisting of "(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?", "Who Let The Dogs Out", and Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog".[1] Some of the Frisbees were tossed by Dr. Dejardin, Zeke II's orthopedic surgeon.[5]

On the morning of February 11, 2012, Zeke II died peacefully at the age of 16.

Zeke III

In anticipation of Dexter's retirement, the Foleys began training his replacement in 2006, with Eisenberg again as their training advisor. Boo Coo, a 21-month-old male pedigreed yellow Lab, debuted as Zeke III at halftime in Spartan Stadium on September 15, 2007.[5]


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