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Store mascot Champ returned to grateful owners

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Posted: Monday, October 10, 2011 6:25 pm | Updated: 7:01 am, Tue Oct 11, 2011.

Jennifer Jensen found out last week that Bentley the Chihuahua actually belonged to someone else.

Bentley, whose original name was Champ, was reunited on Thursday with the Ghuane family, who owns the small Save Mart store at Hutchins Street and Kettleman Lane.

“I never thought we would get him back,” said Max Ghuane, who runs Save Mart with his parents, Piara and Gurdev Ghuane.

Champ, a fixture at the small grocery store, greeted customers and became an unofficial store mascot. He disappeared on June 30 after walking out the front door at the busy intersection. For more than three months, the family didn’t know whether or not Champ was even alive.

“He’s like a baby,” Gurdev Ghuane said shortly after Champ’s disappearance.

Jensen, who lives with her mother in Lodi and her father in Stockton, was frequently in tears over losing Champ, who turned 2 on July 16.

It all changed last Wednesday, when Max Ghuane was buying food at Panera Bread in southwest Lodi. Three people believed to be in their late teens recognized Ghuane from News-Sentinel reports about Champ and said they knew where the dog was.

One of the teens phoned Ghuane’s younger brother, Mikey, and arranged a meeting on Sargent Road, Max said. The next day, Jensen, 20, came to the store at about 4 p.m. and delivered Champ to their owners.

“My daughter is very upset over losing the dog,” Jensen’s father, Robert Jensen, said in an email. “I then had my wife drive to the store in Lodi and offer $2,000 for Bentley, but it was obvious that Champ was very much a part of the family and was not for sale.

“Obviously, we understand completely their love for Champ,” Robert Jensen said. “It was painful for us all, but Jennifer did the right thing in returning Champ to his family.”

The night before returning Champ, Jennifer Jensen spent the night with her parents, but never mentioned she found out who the owner was and was going to take him back to the store.

“I feel she wanted to give us one last night with Bentley before taking him to his real family,” Robert Jensen said.

Champ felt right at home during a visit to the store on Monday afternoon, though he was shaking occasionally.

The Ghuanes learned their lesson and plan to keep Champ at the family home so he doesn’t get away again.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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  • Jay Samone posted at 3:41 pm on Tue, Oct 11, 2011.

    Jay Samone Posts: 359

    Brett, I wondered the same thing. Funny how the LNS "glossed over" the whole, having someone else's dog thing. It would seem to me that when you find a dog, you post fliers, ads in Craiglist and free newspapers, in addition to taking it to a vet's office (don't ever take it to a shelter) to have it scanned for owner information to locate the rightful owner. Even worse was the newspaper article.

    and really? There aren't a thousand other ugly little chihuahuas at any given shelter on any given day, she had to have THAT ONE? Her father offered them $2k so she could keep the pet she probably stole? Sounds like that little girl needs a quick reality check instead of having her daddy buy people off for her.

  • Josh Morgan posted at 9:25 am on Tue, Oct 11, 2011.

    Josh Morgan Posts: 529

    Can't speak to a grocery store, but there are several studies out now showing the benefits of a dog in the work place. Increased productivity, better morale and less absenteeism. When I still had my business my dog went to work with me every day. Customers looked forward to seeing him and my employees spoiled him. When he passed away I think my customers and employees were as upset as I was.

  • Raymond Cook posted at 9:02 am on Tue, Oct 11, 2011.

    Raymond Cook Posts: 125

    Personally, I don't feel a (PET) belongs in a retail store for health reasons, (Urination and Crap) (Slip and fall hazard) = (Lawsuit) reasons, Risk of theft of the pet, and collecting a reward, Theft of pet to do it harm. Folks that Absolutely MUST have their pet with them at all times makes me ponder the sanity of those who drive a vehicle which can kill others by having the pet in their LAP while driving.

    Point is... if this family would have LEFT their pet at HOME, none of this would have happened and they would still have their $2,000.00 (REWARD MONEY) I too find it IRONIC that a good reporter would FAIL to explain how someone came into possession of a beloved pet in a retail store enviroment where someone had the chance to walk out with it unnoticed.

    Maybe the reporter is just working on a follow up article to inform us. I guess we'll just have to stand by for the update.

  • Brett Thompson posted at 8:25 am on Tue, Oct 11, 2011.

    Brett Thompson Posts: 53

    It's kind of funny how the article doesn't ever mention how Jennifer Jensen came to acquire Champ. It seems a little suspicious to me. If I found a lost dog, I'd look for identification on its collar, find out if it's microchipped, and contact the Animal Shelter immediately so the rightful owners could track him down. I wonder why this girl and her family didn't do this...



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