The community of Groveland is mourning the loss of a town icon.
Goose, a dog that was twice named Groveland’s honorary mayor, died Tuesday after a brief illness in Wisconsin, where he moved to in 2012 with his owners, Lynn and Victor Upthagrove. He was 6 years old.
An outpouring of condolences from dozens of Groveland residents has filled Lynn Upthagrove’s Facebook page since word spread of Goose’s untimely death.
“He wasn’t a normal dog. He was different,” Upthagrove said Friday. “I couldn’t believe how many people responded to his passing.”
Upthagrove said she took him to a veterinarian Oct. 25 for a skin infection, but his physical condition worsened and he would no longer eat food by that Sunday.
“We took him off the medication but he just got worse, so we don’t believe it was an allergic reaction,” Upthagrove said.
By Tuesday morning, Goose’s breathing became “extremely labored” and he could barely hold himself up. He had to be put down later that day so he wouldn’t suffer any longer, Upthagrove said.
Upthagrove, who owned the Hotel Charlotte in Groveland from 2003 to 2012 with her husband, Victor, adopted Goose from the Tuolumne County Humane Society in 2008.
The terrier, pug and chow mix had been assigned the name Taylor, but Upthagrove renamed him Goose because he would “goose” her with his nose whenever he wanted food or to go for a walk.
Goose quickly became a favorite around the Hotel Charlotte. He and Upthagrove would often “play” the piano together to the delight of guests.
When James Nagle, of the Yosemite Highway 120 Chamber of Commerce, came up with the idea of holding a contest for honorary mayor to raise money for the chamber’s annual 49er Festival in 2008, Upthagrove suggested throwing Goose’s name in the ring as a “candidate.”
“We thought it was a cute idea and would really make it fun,” Nagle said.
The candidates sell $1 raffle tickets — jokingly referred to as “political bribes” — for the silent auction at the 49er Festival, with the top fundraiser earning the title of honorary mayor. Each candidate is also sponsored by a local organization or cause, which receives a portion of the money raised.
In the four times Goose ran for honorary mayor from 2008 to 2011, the philanthropic pooch raised a total of about $26,387. He won in 2009 and 2011, raising $5,428 and $13,040 in the respective campaigns.
“He bribed a lot of people,” Nagle joked.
Goose’s charitable sponsor in his first two campaigns, Camp Tuolumne Trails and the Jerry and Paula Baker Foundation, received a total of about $2,839.
The then-unfinished Groveland Dog Park sponsored Goose’s run in 2010 and received $1,650, which was used to help cover some construction costs.
“I think everybody in this town that knew of Goose thought very highly of him,” said Jim Knudson, who spearheaded the effort to build the dog park. “He was a good puppy.”
The Pine Cone Singers, a community chorus in Groveland, sponsored Goose’s final campaign in 2011 and received $3,918 — the most money that had ever been raised for a sponsor group by a single candidate.
“We were able to buy a brand new keyboard, which we desperately needed, and sound and lighting equipment for our plays,” said chorus spokeswoman Shirley Brasesco. “It was a tremendous help to us.”
Nagle said that Goose’s political aspirations also attracted a lot of attention to the area. Goose was featured on the live TV show “Good Day Sacramento” during his first campaign.
As honorary mayor, Goose was required to do a number of activities to represent the town, including leading the 49er Festival Parade and attending mixers and other chamber-hosted events.
“It’s really hit our community hard,” Nagle said of Goose’s death. “We’re all very saddened because we adored him, Lynn and Victor very much. It’s a big loss.”
Groveland resident Judy Connery was one of the “shocked” community members who heard about Goose’s death on Facebook last week.
Connery said some are considering the idea of holding a memorial event for Goose while Upthagrove is back in town for a previously planned trip to Groveland later this month.
“She is an amazing person, and the people around here just love her,” Connery said of Upthagrove. “We are sad, but at the same time we want to honor Goose because he brought the community together.”
Weekly Arts and entertainment guide for Calaveras and Tuolumne counties