Golden retriever at center of heated custody battle

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Ron Callan Junior left an estate in Memphis worth about two (M) million dollars, but the most hotly contested item in the late businessman's Probate Court case is his 13-year-old golden retriever, Alex.

A four-way fight over custody of Alex is so intense that a judge has appointed an attorney to represent the dog's interests.

The attorney, Paul Royal, said it's a highly emotional issue for all involved. Callan, whose New Year's Day shooting death was ruled a suicide, left no will. His father, Ronald Callan Senior, administrator of his son's estate, has had an ongoing dispute with former wife Esther Snow Gnall over ownership, care and custody of their son's dog.

The elder Callan claims his ex-wife tried to pay one of his employees to kidnap Alex, an allegation she denies.

Also interested in who gets Alex is Kim Guill, the fiancee of Ron Callan Junior, who was present when he died.

Also in the picture is Chris Griffith, the dead man's former girlfriend who has known the dog since he was a puppy.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)