Shelby Stanga’s Facebook page posted on December 13 that Willy the dog, Stanga’s longtime sidekick and constant companion, lost his battle with cancer. Fans flooded the page with condolences and their own stories of beloved pets they have lost. Willy retired from working with Stanga a few years ago, and was being cared for by a loving couple known only as Keith and Lauren. The post ended with one of Stanga’s favorite sayings, “Get in the boat Willy and hang on!”
Daily Two Cents shared that since retirement, Willy was living the doggy high life. Instead of chasing alligators, he spent a lot of time chasing squirrels. They called him the “Top Dog of the Swamp” and fans would readily agree with that statement. In his younger days he was always at Stanga’s side, and often appeared on “Ax Men” and “The Legend of Shelby the Swamp Man” shows.
Watching the interactions between Stanga and his little dog Willy was heartwarming. Stanga often sang and talked to the pup, and Willy obviously loved the attention. What endeared fans to Shelby even more was what he did for Willy when he obviously wasn’t feeling well. Fortunately, the incident that was caught by the “Ax Men” film crew. Willy was acting lethargic, and Stanga was so concerned that he carried Willy all the way to the animal clinic. That was touching enough, but Stanga walked the entire way barefoot. Willy was diagnosed with heart worms and after treatment made a full recovery.
Are you a fan of Shelby Stanga and Willy? Leave your comments, condolences and thoughts below. “Ax Men” airs on Sunday’s at 9 p.m. ET on the History Channel.