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Community supports ailing canine

Rick Chandler

As benefit concerts go, this one was huge.

They all came out at Hoss Hoggs Restaurant in South Lake Tahoe on Thursday night: The music was hot and the joint was packed, and everyone had a great time for a worthy cause. In short, they really raked in the kibble for South Lake Tahoe’s most sizable celebrity, Trevor the Big Dog.

“Everybody knows Trevor, but I still think all of this is amazing,” said Steve Horowitz, a local musician and owner of Trevor, a 200-pound Great Dane. “I’m blown away at the outpouring of support.”

When Trevor, an 8-year-old Blue Merle, was diagnosed with hepatitis three weeks ago, Horowitz didn’t know what he was going to do. Treatments for his dog would be extremely expensive, and animal hospitals are notoriously unreceptive to the payment plan.

But Horowitz underestimated Trevor’s substantial spot in the local conscience. It didn’t take the community long to learn that their favorite big pooch was in trouble, and they quickly mobilized. A benefit concert was organized at Hoss Hoggs, spearheaded by owners Diane and Leroy Johnson. Eight bands signed on to participate from as far away as Reno, and several local merchants jumped on as sponsors – among them Mountain High Records, Pet Supermarket, Pet World, Killer Chicken and the Sub Station. Sound and technical equipment for the event was donated by Paul Howell’s Fresh Productions.

“Everyone loves Trevor,” said James Chrastka, a local massage therapist in attendance Thursday. “We stood out in front (of Hoss Hoggs) this afternoon with the dog, and about every fifth car honked at us. People were yelling ‘Trevor!’ He’s a pretty big celebrity around here.”

Horowitz, a drummer and bass player for several local bands, has lived in South Lake Tahoe for four years. He bought Trevor in Florida when the dog was 8 weeks old, “The runt of the litter,” according to Horowitz.

“His brothers and sisters were really big,” he said. “The Blue Merle is not a popular breed of Great Dane, because they aren’t show dogs. The guy who owned him said, ‘Why do you want to bother with this one?’ But there was something about him that I loved.”

Trevor has traveled with Horowitz across the country ever since, tagging along on gigs from Hollywood, Fla. to Las Vegas – his stature growing literally as well as figuratively.

“Trevor always makes at least one appearance on stage, and the crowd loves him,” Horowitz said. “Once we were playing a New Year’s Eve concert in Marin County (Calif.), and ‘Reptiles’ was playing. Trevor walked onto the stage during the saxophone player’s solo, and the crowd went wild. The saxophone guy thought the ovation was for him, but then he turned around and saw Trevor and almost fell over.”

When Horowitz and his band, ‘Uncle Funkle,’ played a gig in Las Vegas, Trevor got to meet a Bengal tiger at the Mirage Hotel.

“There were about 50 people lined up to pet the tiger, and about 200 lined up to pet Trevor,” Horowitz said. “Kids go crazy when they see him.”

Trevor is also a fixture at local clubs such as Ellis Island in Stateline and, of course, Hoss Hoggs. But three weeks ago the dog took to his sick bed, refusing to move around. He even stopped eating, and lost nearly 50 pounds.

“I made a lot of calls, and money was a big issue with them (the vet hospitals),” Horowitz said. “I’m not poor, but I’m not rich either, and these places wanted the full amount up front. But for a lot of people, your dog is a member of your family. What do you do?”

That’s when Sharon Burns, a veterinarian with Sierra Veterinary Hospital in South Lake Tahoe, stepped in. Burns had treated Trevor in the past for minor ailments, and found that she still had a soft spot for her biggest patient. She took the dog on as sort of a pro bono patient.

His fans will be happy to know that Trevor, who was diagnosed with colangio hepatitis, a liver ailment, is now on the mend. The major treatments are done, and the big canine is back on the music circuit – although he now takes longer breaks.

And it also won’t be long until he’s romping around at his favorite hangout, Kiva Beach, swimming and playing with his other dog friends.

The benefit will go a long way toward paying Trevor’s medical expenses, but donations would still be appreciated. Those who want to help can contact Horowitz at (530) 573-1526.

Horowitz played at a Grateful Dead Family and Friends benefit concert last year in San Francisco, and Trevor was a big hit as usual – earning the nickname ‘Grateful Dog’ by fans there. In fact, a local T-shirt vendor had a few shirts made up with the nickname on the front, and Horowitz passed them out to a few friends. He was wearing one Thursday night.

“I can’t thank people enough for their support,” Horowitz said. “What a community we live in. I mean, where else but in Lake Tahoe would they put on a benefit for a dog?”

While Horowitz is effusive with his thanks, Trevor himself isn’t talking. But one has the feeling that he’s now truly the ‘Grateful Dog’ in every way.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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