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Purple Pups: Chip Davisson Protects Vikings Home Turf


Most everyone at the Vikings practice facility knows Chip.

The sleek, charcoal-colored Weimaraner has his run of the grounds at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center. It's not uncommon to see Chip darting in and out of the tall, flax-colored grass swaying on the practice field sidelines. And most days, you can catch a glimpse of him riding shotgun in a quad alongside his owner, Vikings Turf Manager Grant Davisson.

Chip keeps the practice fields free of grass-seed-eating geese and other varmints, and he makes plenty of human friends along the way.

Grant brings the 7-year-old pup to work with him daily. The duo has its routine down pat, including a visit with Vikings longtime equipment manager Dennis Ryan, who often carries dog treats in his pocket.

"We like Chip. He's the only one who comes around here who isn't demanding anything," quipped Ryan, who owns two small dogs of his own.

Ryan and the rest of the Vikings equipment staff welcome visits from Chip, who casually roams around the industrial laundry bins and endless rows of orange Nike cleat boxes. He doesn't cause trouble but certainly will sniff around for any treats.

"He comes in and sniffs around and searches for snacks under my desk," equipment assistant Terrell Barnes said. "I like getting to see him and pet him – and also that he scares away the crows and other birds on the field."

Assistant Equipment Manager Adam Groene noted that their space is a favorite destination of Chip's.

"He just likes to be petted, so any extra love touches he can get, the better, and then he'll stick around," Groene said. "Even when Grant says, 'We've gotta go,' he doesn't want to leave because he's getting too much love here."

Though it may occasionally get sidetracked, Chip's morning routine looks similar each day.

"You show up, we get breakfast, I grab a coffee, and then we do a lap. And then we go see Dennis and grab another coffee," Grant said. "We go in the office, we pay bills. Chip takes a little nap, and then he'll go roam and do something else.

"During the day, if I'm out, he'll roam around with me. He'll ride along with me. If we have meetings somewhere, he'll come with," Grant continued. "During practice, he normally goes inside, or he'll go sleep by the garden."

View photos of Vikings Turf Manager Grant Davisson and his charcoal-colored Weimaraner, Chip, in this edition of Purple Pups.

For the past five years, Chip has been accompanying Grant to work – first at Winter Park in Eden Prairie and now at TCO Performance Center. Grant credited Vikings Owners Mark and Zygi Wilf, General Manager Rick Spielman and Head Coach Mike Zimmer for welcoming Chip.

But Chip isn't the first dog Davisson has brought to work. That tradition actually starts with one of Davisson's previous Weimaraners, Pepin.

Grant recalled starting as an assistant with the Vikings turf team 17 years ago. At that time, the team hired someone to bring a dog and keep the geese away.

"I was like, 'Hey, do you mind – I could just bring my dog. He's a hunting dog; he'll do everything you need,' " Grant said. "And ever since then, my dog has been coming in. That was [the Mike] Tice era."

Chip isn't the only canine crewmember in the NFL, either. He's got counterparts around the country who keep the league's practice fields under close watch – and ensure the teams' staff is well-loved.

There's Turf the Dog, whom Grant calls "probably the most famous" of the bunch, in Seattle; Boyd, a black-and-white Border Collie who works with the Patriots turf team; and Milo, who meanders around the Cardinals facility in Tempe, Arizona.

Turf Dogs

While Chip mostly stays behind-the-scenes when it comes to practice or any other team activity, he's been known to interact with players from time to time, which is always a positive experience for both parties.

"He likes players. He likes if they have food on them, if there's food at their lockers or if they smell like food. Chip is very food-motivated," Grant laughed. "If you're a player and you like dogs, you like Chip. Same with coaches."

Chip will introduce himself to a player or coach if they cross paths for morning coffee, but he respects the boundaries of work and practice.

"Chip's in his own world," Groene said. "He stays over to the side, and even when we're out at practice if Grant's walking around in the grounds shop area, he doesn't even notice the guys out there. He's in his own little world following Grant. He's well-behaved."

Chip certainly is living his best life, but it wasn't always that way.

Grant and his wife Amanda adopted Chip from Wonder Reims Rescue when he was 2. The young pup arrived to his new family riddled with anxiety, marked by scars and missing most of the hair on his legs and paws.

"I think he had a tough life," Grant said. "He also had heartworm, and that sucked. That's like a 90-day process where you really can't do anything … so he kind of laid low. After that, he started coming in."

Grant and Amanda have a special affinity for Weimaraners, for a number of reasons. They've always loved the breed. Weimaraners who preceded Chip included Pepin, Jaeger, Fritz and Reiner.

The Davissons switched it up a bit when naming Chip, however, choosing his moniker instead based off a short film titled "The Hardly Boys in Hardly Gold." Directed by William Wegman, the film stars Weimaraners in place of human actors.

"We liked Chip's [character in the movie] because he had so many jobs … and we just liked his demeanor," laughed Grant. "Also, 'Chip' kind of just rolls off the tongue. It's a fun name."

A fun name for a fun-loving dog.

Chip has made several memories around football, from stealing – and quickly consuming – a bag of hotdog buns during training camp, to photo-bombing a 2017 ESPN interview with Case Keenum, to going through security at U.S. Bank Stadium during the week of Super Bowl LII.

"He got wanded by the National Guard at the Super Bowl because I had to deliver some stencils to the stadium," Grant said. "There was a guy lifting up his coat and wanding him. That was fantastic."

Chip has always been well-loved by the Vikings family, but his presence over the past 18 months has provided an extra boost of positive energy during challenging times.

"It always brightens your day when you're out there and it's like, 'What's up, Chip?' " Groene said. "Sometimes he'll come for a ride, or we're out setting up the field for practice and he'll just come over and say hi."

"He's been here every day," Grant said. "I don't think he even knows there was a pandemic – except there weren't any players here last summer. But it's been nice.

He added with a smile: "It's good to have somebody to talk to who agrees with everything you say."