Besides being the devoted and passionate host of “Jeopardy!” Alex Trebek was also a devoted dad — to both his children and his dogs.
When he wasn’t at the studio stage filming for the show, Trebek was at home. There he would spend his free time alongside his wife, Jean, and his two kids, Matthew and Emily.
His family also had their beloved Wilbur, or Willie, as they called him. Willie is an Australian shepherd dog. According to the “Jeopardy!” site, Alex and Jean Trebek bought Willie for their daughter for Christmas when she was 10. Apparently, Alex’s eyes filled with tears when he first got to hold the puppy.
“Willie has now been with the Trebek family for 16 years through thick and thin, and even overcame his own bout with cancer. Alex has joked, ‘A lot of the pills are the same for humans!'”
Sadly, Alex Trebek himself passed away from pancreatic cancer after a long battle. Both Trebek and his beloved Willie fought to try to overcome cancer.
In 2017, “Jeopardy!” invited fans to send in a picture of their pets watching Alex Trebek read clues to hopeful contestants on the screen. The result was cats, dogs, and even a bunny dutifully watching the program alongside their owner.
‘Jeopardy!’ Icon’s Favorite Animal
Although Trebek adored his Australian shepherd Willie, dogs weren’t necessarily his favorite animal.
It turns out, Trebek was a huge fan of the musk ox. He was one of the most generous donors to the Musk Ox Development Corporation, a nonprofit that helps the musk ox. He once admitted on “Jeopardy!” that he liked “the way their furry coats wave in the breeze when they are running.”
When news of Alex Trebek’s death spread, the Musk Ox Farm in Palmer, Alaska, shared their condolences.
According to Anchorage Press, Trebek had a really special bond with the Alaskan farm and the animal in general. Trebek reached out to the director of the farm at the time, John McKee, in the late 1980s.
The two had a special friendship and Trebek would even come to visit on occasion. He even signed all the adoption certificates for the nonprofit’s program, Friends of the Musk Ox, for the next 30 years.
The Trebek Family Foundation was a generous donor to the Musk Ox Farm. Trebek was hooked on the musk ox and wanted other people to see how fluffy and great they were.
“I think he certainly beat the odds. He was strong. He kept doing what he loved to do best. He just showed incredible strength and resistance, like a musk ox,” the current Executive Director Mark Austin said.