Meet Church Dog - Celebration, Florida

A new children’s book series based on one famous furry Celebration resident is getting ready to launch this fall.

Church Dog is a heartwarming tale about a puppy named K’noot sent from Heaven to teach people about the true nature of God’s unconditional love.  With supernatural eyes that let K’noot see people the way Jesus does, the Church Dog’s mission is to help all God’s Children understand their unique identity as precious and special.  God loves us no matter what!  And what better Messenger than “man’s best friend?”

The stories are based on a real dog named K’noot, who lives right here in our Disney town.  And he really does attend the local Community Presbyterian Church regularly.  The pup is part of an extended family of more than a dozen Maltese dogs that have blessed families throughout Celebration. You have most likely seen these little white furballs walking around our streets and biking paths.

The author, Tracy Mattes, whom we highlighted in our Celebration Spotlight in March of 2018, is a resident who wrote the book and created the concept of Church Dog.

Rev. Dr. William Lewis, the Senior Pastor at Community Presbyterian Church in Celebration, brought the pup to church and held him in the nook of his arm during the prayers when K’noot was only eight weeks old.  After he found his forever home with Mattes, she continued to take the dog to church every week.  Parishioners and church visitors were fascinated how this adorable little puppy sat and listened to the sermons and even participated in the church service.  This earned him the endearing nickname, the “Church Dog.”  Mattes then began writing the book series. Once the manuscript was written, an executive at Disney’s Animation Studios found the illustrator and book came to life.

When it came to the artwork for the the animated character of the Church Dog, the children from Celebration K-8 School and Community Presbyterian Pre-School voted on four different drawings before choosing the final artwork that became the Church Dog.

In this series of playful and endearing Church Dog adventures, each story uses biblical foundations to teach moral lessons about real life issues that children face. The books are perfect for igniting conversations around subjects like bullying, prejudice, grief, forgiveness, fear and fighting temptation. Equally important is stressing the power of being kind, compassionate, giving, standing up for one other and having self-esteem.

“There is a universal need for a more kindheartedness,” said Mattes.  “We live in a world where too often people only look for the ugly and bad in themselves and each other.  The goal of this adventure series is to ignite the hearts of children and open their eyes to a loving God, who sees all people as the beautiful and special individuals they are.”

In addition to Rev. Lewis and Mattes, the Church Dog team consists of Celebration residents, Kim Hawk, Michele Lewis, Elijah Lewis, illustrator Justin Greenly and a special thanks to photographer Rod Hawk for his amazing photography!

The first Church Dog book and companion plush toy will be available just in time for the holidays.  A book launch party is being planned for November 1 at Market Street Gallery in downtown Celebration.  This will give Celebration children and families a chance to meet the author and real Church Dog.  You can get your advance copies on Kickstarter at, search Church Dog.