Gabe Perkins photo

BETHEL — Gabe Perkins holds a treat in his hand, telling his pal to sit before tapping his shoulders and asking for a hug. Champ, a waist-high, smiling dog, jumps up and gives Perkins a hug. Jessie Perkins laughs from the other room, and Champ comes back in to greet her with a wagging tail.

This is one of the many things Jessie and Gabe Perkins love about their dog.

They saw Champ posted on Bridgton’s Harvest Hills Shelter website when he was only eight weeks old. They saw a picture of him with one white paw raised up, and the next day they drove through an ice storm to get him.

The rest is history.

The Perkins have given a name to one of Champ’s most iconic days. It’s known as, “Champ’s Greatest Day.”

The day unravels as such.


The Perkins were at Grand Lake Stream to camp. They left Champ at their cabin, and went off to eat breakfast. As they were eating, suddenly Champ came in, running up to the Perkins. Everyone began clapping for him.

Jessie continues to laugh, saying she was convinced Champ wandered over because he smelled bacon and they just to happened to be where the bacon was being cooked. Gabe beams at Jessie, saying it was definitely because Champ had smelled them and had come to be with them. Either way, neither can explain how Champ managed to open the screen cabin door, cross a five way intersection, and travel a mile to them.

The day doesn’t stop there. They took him on different hikes, and soon they approached water that was covered over with fog. As the fog disappeared they could see a bird-filled sky. Champ began running along the water happily.

Come night, near Orono, they went bar hopping — with Champ. Students fawned over Champ, hugging him, throughout the night.

And that was “Champ’s Greatest Day!”

Champ pauses during a hike in Oxford. Craig Derek Angevine photo

Around the time the Perkins got Champ, Craig Angevine had just finished college and was renting a room at the Perkins’ home. Angevine, who loves dogs, helped take care of Champ, taking him on walks, and going on hikes. Eventually, the two became buddies, Angevine spending time with Champ if either of the Perkins were busy.


At the same time, Angevine was toying with the idea of starting his own photography business and Champ was his first real model.

“[I] took him to this secret waterfall . . . we got up to the falls, playing fetch, I tossed a stick, and he ran and jumped; it was the most epic photo,” says Angevine, his voice excited, as though he was seeing it replay in front of him.

“That photo was the inspiration for my business logo . . . Champ jumping over the brook,” he said.

Champ is “near and dear to my heart.”

If you would like to have your dog featured in Dogs of Bethel, please contact Meira at [email protected]

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