Fan support floods Bush's Beans after death of dog that used to play 'Duke'

Fan support floods Bush's Beans after death of dog that used to play 'Duke'
A number of dogs have played "Duke," according to the company.

(RNN) – Don't worry, that beautiful bean footage will continue rolling.

Many were saddened to learn after a Facebook post went viral that Sam, a dog who had played the iconic "Duke" in Bush's Baked Beans commercials, died last week.

But in a Facebook post on Tuesday, Bush's clarified that in the more than 20 years they've used "Duke" in commercials, "We've worked closely with several dogs who portrayed Duke in our commercials, including Sam."

"While Sam has not worked with us in years, we are saddened by the news of his passing and are grateful to have had him depict Duke," the company said on Facebook. "Because Duke is iconic to Bush's and so adored by our fans, we will continue to use him in our ads."

A Facebook user named David Odom first posted about Sam's death on Saturday. He identified himself as a friend of the dog's owner and said, "Sadly she had to euthanize Sam yesterday due to an aggressive cancer he was suffering from."

"(The owner) is, as we are, heartbroken," Odom wrote. "He was a very special dog to all who ever knew or had the pleasure of meeting him. He is and will be missed."

The post was shared more than 87,000 times and had more than 120,000 reactions from fans understandably upset about the death of "Duke."

The character became beloved through a series of commercials featuring Jay Bush, a spokesman for the company and its founder's great-grandson, and the dogs who have played "Duke."

They depict Bush palling around with "Duke," a talking dog who, behind Bush's back, is bent on selling the family's secret recipe for the beans.

"We continue to be overwhelmed by fan interest and their love of Duke," Bush's said in the statement on Facebook on Tuesday. "The relationship between Jay and his beloved dog Duke is the embodiment of the Bush's brand, and has been a part of our family story for more than 20 years."

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