Pups in the Park
Dogs typically aren’t allowed at Nationals Park–most public places for that matter–so it is a unique experience when pet owners are granted permission to bring their prized pet to the park this weekend. The Nationals are hosting their first ever “Pups in the Park” event this weekend and if it is anything like the Dog Days that have taken place at other parks, you can expect to see doggy super fans.
Dog owners love their canine companion(s). If a dog is attending a baseball game, it is a safe bet that the owner is going to make sure the dog is decked out in Nats gear, bandanas, jerseys and looks like the omnipotent Air Bud circa 1997. Brief history: in his prime, Air Bud could dunk, hit grand slams, spike volleyballs and beat Michael Jordan in a one-on-one game of basketball. (Air Bud is in the pseudo Doggie Hall of Fame. Beethoven is still seeking his nod into the fraternity–the inability to dunk hurt.)
Closer Mike MacDougal and his wife Mari Mascaro aren’t concerned about making their dog, Charlie Ann, look like Air Bud tomorrow, they are just thrilled to bring her to the park. The four-pound Charlie Anna is a Maltese poodle so she is inherently small and can fit in just about anything. It makes the trip to Nationals Park easy.
Do you carry her in a purse? “I do, but especially because she had to have double knee surgery this year so for the past twelve weeks she was like a baby,” Mascaro said. “But she just got her clearance today to be a normal dog again.”
Do you have to hide her a lot? “Yeah. She was caught once and they were like “Can you just keep her under the table?”
Any funny comments? “A lot of times you’ll hear ‘There’s a dog in there! Look, there’s a dog in there!’” People always just say it’s crazy. She has her own little bag.”
She is well traveled but not like Homeward Bound: The incredible Journey well traveled. Charlie Ann has seen the world, well the United States, out of the friendly confines of her own purse-like bag. Chance, Shadow and Sassy didn’t have the luxury of a climate controlled carrier, they also weren’t four pounds.
Charlie Ann doesn’t really do any cool tricks but she knows when her bag is placed on the floor it is travel time. She runs into it like a kid sprinting out of school on the last day. She is hyper and loves to wiggle her behind.
MacDougal loves dogs, manly ones. That’s why he has a lab-German shepherd mix named Sammy. Unfortunately, the 80-pound pup has to stay at his parent’s house during the season because of her size and MacDougal’s traveling requirements.
Mascaro always had dogs growing up but when she was around the age of 10, she saw a girl get bit by a dog. It made her timid around bigger dogs… a little scared of dogs that could jump up and reach her face.
“I started out slow,” She said. “Charlie Ann is lucky to get to my knees. But actually, because Sammy is so good, it’s made me a lot more comfortable around her. She’s a big dog. That was the only reason Mike let me get a little dog was because he already had her.”
In conjunction with Pups in the Park, the Nats are hosting the second annual Adopt-A-Pet at the Park event, which will take place before Saturday’s game. Located near the Strike Zone in the Family Fun Area, fans will be able to interact with dogs who are looking for a loving home to call their own. The fans will then be able to fill out applications on site to adopt the dogs they meet.
Pet tickets for Pups at the Park are sold out, but discounted human tickets remain for both days in support of the Adopt-A-Pet program. Left Field Mezzanine tickets, normally $30, can be purchased for $20 here. A portion of the proceeds from all tickets sold for the event will be donated to the Washington Humane Society.
There are a few other teams in the Majors that host a similar dog event. The A’s hosted a Dog Day at the Park with proceeds benefiting Dogs4Diabetics. They had a “Pup Rally” and a “Pup Parade.” The Astros are hosting their first annual Dog Day on Labor Day. The Pirates have “Pups in the Park” on selected Tuesday nights during the season. Last year, the six pup nights were themed: Most Pirates Pride, Best Dressed Pup, Most Patriotic Pup, Most Talented Pup and the kicker Owner/Pup Look-a-like.
“You know what though… you can match up the dogs to their owners,” Mascaro said. “You really can. And I think that’s funny. They say that about couples too… so I guess it all works.”