Dog has his day with 20th birthday party

Jim McClurkan with Maggie Hope, Jimmy Stephens with Chipper, Jim Williams with Lucky, and Delilah Williams with Penny.

Not many dogs live to be 20 and as Chipper’s birthday approached, Jimmy Stephens decided his canine companion deserved a birthday party. “Really the idea came after watching an old episode of Full House on Nick at Night. The family dog was having a birthday, and they had a party for their dog.” Stephens remembers watching the neighbors bring in their dogs dressed in clothes and party hats. He thought that would be a lot of fun for Chipper. Stephens’ pastor at Verona United Methodist Church thought it was a good idea as well. After talking it over with him and noticing the next week’s Bible study fell directly on Chipper’s birthday, Stephens decided to have the party afterwards at the church. “Our pastor, Jim McClurkan, he and his wife have a little chihuahua, and they’re just as crazy about their dog as I am Chipper. And he told me if I brought Chipper, he’d bring Maggie, and then I called my cousins who said they would bring their dogs.” Chipper was born on Sept. 5, 1998. “The people who lived down the street from us raised Yorkie Poos. This lady gave my mother this little dog, and he was just a little white cotton puff.” Stephen’s mom was a huge Atlanta Braves fan and named the puppy after Chipper Jones. The Yorkie Poo became her constant companion. “He would sit in her lap and when he got tired of that, he would sit at her feet. He would even follow her to the restroom. He was really attached to her. He was very, very faithful.” In August 2013, Stephens’ mother passed away. Stephens then became Chipper’s guardian. “He’s a pretty healthy dog for his age and gets around pretty good. I’ll sometimes take him to the farmer’s market with me on Saturday mornings. Walking is a little bit harder for him due to arthritis, but other than that, he has a good appetite, and he really thinks a lot of me.” The party was filled with laughter and delight as Chipper’s guests arrived. McClurkan’s chihuahua Maggie Hope made her appearance not long before Stephen’s cousins came onto the scene. Jim and Delilah Williams drove up from Columbus to bring their rescue dogs Lucky and Penny. All the dogs wore party hats long enough for pictures to be taken. Human guests enjoyed cake made by Todd’s Big Star decorated with frosting shaped in the likeness of Chipper. Even Chipper had his own cake. “It’s like a meatloaf, made of ground beef, but with no salt or any of the other stuff in it like I would make for myself. And it’s topped with cream potatoes instead of icing,” said Stephens. Once the two and zero number candles were lit, the guests raised their voices to sing happy birthday to Chipper. Stephens helped Chipper blow out his candles as applause filled the air. Chipper’s party was fit for a canine king and confirmed the old saying: every dog has its day.

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