DOWNTOWN — Sporty the dog has long been known for delighting people by walking himself, leash in mouth, Downtown — and now his fans are trying to show the sick pup just how much they care for him.
Sporty, a 12-year-old golden retriever, has amassed a following of more than 74,000 people on Instagram and often gets love from fans during his frequent walks in the Loop. But he became sick this week and is currently staying overnight in the veterinarian emergency room while experts try to determine what’s causing his illness.
With people reaching out asking to help, Sporty’s owner, David Duncan, created a GoFundMe where fans can donate to help cover Sporty’s medical bills. The fundraiser has gathered more than $6,000 in less than a day and has a goal of $10,000.
“It means a lot. What it really shows is he’s had a really big impact on a lot of people,” Duncan said. “He’s just a special dog that finds a way to make people smile every day, and I was lucky enough to be able to share that with people.”
Sporty has battled a slow-moving lymphoma for more than a year but has been well enough to go for walks and meet with his fans.
But this week, Sporty started having troubles with his stomach and was lethargic. Duncan shared photos on Instagram of the normally energetic Sporty lying down at home, explaining the pup was sick.
Sporty was still in the emergency room as of Thursday, Duncan said, and they’re waiting for test results to determine if the new symptoms are caused by Sporty’s lymphoma or another type of cancer.
Duncan said he’s hoping Sporty’s recent symptoms are just part of a “temporary setback and he’s back to his normal self.” He’s been worried and sad to see Sporty acting so unlike himself.
“I just want him to be better,” he said.
Duncan created the GoFundMe on Wednesday. Hundreds of people from around the world have given money and left comments in support of Sporty and Duncan.
“You bring so much light to all of us!” wrote one person. “We watch you every day!”
Duncan said he appreciates the donations to the GoFundMe because they ensure he can get the best care possible for his beloved dog.
“It allows people to connect a little bit more and feel like they’re really helping,” Duncan said. Obviously we appreciate that.
“I think it proves that Sporty’s just a special dog, and the world could use more Sportys.”
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