Meet Champ -- the newest bat dog in training

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Tuesday, September 26, 2023
Meet Champ, the newest bat dog
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Ripken the Bat Dog has some company in the form of his little brother Champ.

APEX, N.C. (WTVD) -- Ripken the Bat Dog has some company.

The American black Lab, who has become renowned for retrieving bats at some Durham Bulls and Holly Springs Salamanders games - and also for fetching the kickoff tee at N.C. State football games is being joined in the family business by his brother.

Meet Champ, who is in training with his owner Michael O'Donnell, who owns Sit Means Sit Dog Training in Apex.

"We're not going to put him in full-time. Just kind of rotation with Ripken," O'Donnell said. "Ripken's not ready to give up the spotlight just yet. He's only 7, so he's got a lot of years left."

O'Donnell hopes to have Champ ready to take the field for some local games and events next year. Champ is almost 6 months old.

"He'll be going out to Home Depot and Lowe's and parks and really getting out in the environment and get used to the sights and sounds," O'Donnell said. "And training in all kinds of environments."

O'Donnell said if all goes well, Champ will see some action at Bulls games and other events but will eventually work up to making appearances at N.C. State football games, which have a more raucous atmosphere.

"Hopefully you'll see him out at N.C. State, once we feel comfortable getting him out there around all those noises and fireworks and all the excitement that the N.C. State Wolfpack fans bring."

Ripken isn't quite ready to give up the spotlight to his little brother.

"He kind of gives him the side-eye here and there," O'Donnell.

Champ has some "big paws to fill," he added.