Pistons’ Van Gundy can’t stop smiling about Eastwood

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Royal Oak — Like with any new family member, there’s an adjustment period.

And the Van Gundys are slowly and happily adapting to their newest addition, the red-coated Labrador Eastwood who melted hearts when he was adopted last month.

It’s been about a month since Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy and his wife, Kim, brought home the dog that was abandoned last winter, and left limping and nearly blind.

“Eastwood is heavy into training. He didn’t have a lot of training before,” Van Gundy said, beaming at the mere mention of Eastwood during a session with reporters at a charity event Monday. “A highly spirited, 18-month-old dog, a lot of energy, a lot of good positive energy.

“He’s a lot of fun, but trying to get him to where he can live within our family ... my wife, I think, feels like she’s a full-time dog trainer at this point. It’s going to take a lot of time, but it’s a lot of fun watching him learn and assimilate into a family with another dog and six cats, and multiple people coming and going. It’s a highly stimulating place for him.”

Eastwood was at the Little Traverse Bay Humane Society, a no-kill shelter, in West Michigan, but was the lone pet to go unclaimed during an adoption day this year.

The Van Gundys, specifically Kim, heard the sad story, and jumped into action.

Now Eastwood, once all alone in the world, is a star, thanks to social media and published reports about the Van Gundys’ compassion. They adopted Eastwood, knowing he’ll eventually need several thousand dollars in surgery.

“He’s a lot more famous than I am,” Van Gundy said, when asked if Eastwood knew he has a famous “father.” “Everywhere we go now, that’s what people ask us about. We’ve always walked our dogs in the neighborhood, and people come out of their houses to meet him and everything else. He’s the famous one, and the rest of us are sort of along for the ride.”

Van Gundy is used to being approached in public. He’s a longtime sports figure, and he’s got a look that stands out.

But it’s not the Pistons folks want to ask him about these days.

It’s that darn, adorable Eastwood.

And that’s just fine with Van Gundy.

“It’s really hard for us to go anywhere without people asking about him,” Van Gundy said. “I got to get my haircut and had a woman come up and say, ‘I’m not really a basketball fan, but I love your dog.’

“We get a lot of that. It’s amazing that the story has sort of taken off as it has. Hopefully, it’ll encourage more people to adopt rather than shop for dogs. That’s what we get a lot of times, people coming up to us, ‘Oh, we’ve got a rescue dog,’ ‘Oh, we’ve got two rescue dogs,’ and everybody telling us their stories. So it’s a lot of fun.”