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Tag: ball

Yogi Berra, the Greensboro Grasshoppers “ball dog,” is put down as cancer worsens

yogi

Master Yogi Berra, the black Labrador retriever who delighted fans between innings at Greensboro Grasshoppers games, died yesterday — the day before his planned retirement party.

The 9-year-old dog served as the minor league baseball team’s “ball dog,” fetching balls from the outfield during between-inning promotions.

He was diagnosed with cancer this summer and, amid declining health, made his last appearance Tuesday in the Hoppers game against the Hickory Crawdads.

“I think he did it only because he wanted to make me happy,” Donald Moore, team president and Yogi’s owner, told the Greensboro News & Record.

“I don’t think he had any desire to do it, and that’s just not Yogi,” Moore added. “I didn’t shoot the ball very far. He went and got it, and he brought it back, and I could tell. The next morning he seemed so much worse than he had just the night before.”

The Hoppers had planned a retirement party for Yogi during tonight’s game. Instead the team will hold a ceremony in his memory.

“I really thought he would make it through the season. I wasn’t worried about losing him for another couple of months. But, oh my gosh, when it started happening, it happened fast,” Moore said. “He was ready to go, and you don’t punish the dog by putting it off. You don’t keep him in pain just to have a party.”

Moore found a lump on Yogi’s neck in June. A specialist at N.C. State’s College of Veterinary Medicine in Raleigh, diagnosed an inoperable malignant tumor that originated in a salivary gland and had spread down the neck and into the chest.

Yogi was one of three dogs the team has featured over the years. His older sister, Miss Babe Ruth, fetched players’ bats and took baseballs to the home plate umpire from 2006 until her retirement at the end of the 2015 season.

Miss Lou Lou Gehrig, a niece of Yogi and Babe, is the current bat dog for the team.

Yogi was a little more free spirited than those two, and never mastered the bat dog job.

Instead, for eight years, he fetched balls shot into centerfield during a between-innings promotion.

Three weeks into his job, Yogi made national news when an umpire kicked him off the field him for leaving a mess in the outfield, becoming the only dog ever ejected from a professional baseball game.

“People love that dog,” Moore said. “A lot of people are going to be just as heartbroken as we are… We knew it was coming. Unfortunately, everything we tried didn’t work. … It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when things changed, but he started slipping last week and every day he was declining more and more.”

Moore made the decision Wednesday to have Yogi put down.

(Photo: By Nelson Kepley / Greensboro News & Record)

Another fun thing to do with your dog that won’t require your actual presence

playdate

Here’s another special report from your favorite worry wart.

No sooner do I bemoan one high-tech invention for dog owners than another comes rolling along, equally worth fretting about.

This one is a 3-inch remotely controlled orange ball, with a high-def camera inside, that you can watch and listen to on your cell phone.

Its makers boast it will “usher in the future of human-pet interaction.”

Let’s hope not.

It’s called PlayDate, now in the Indygogoing stage, and like many other contraptions hitting the market, it’s designed to make all the time your dog spends alone more bearable for him, and more entertaining and guilt-free for you.

The problem I have with that, as I’ve stated before, is how it lets dog owners shrug off the responsibility of dog ownership and diminishes the bond between dog and owner.

What I fret about is that the “future of human-pet interactions” could be long-distance, computer-assisted, virtual and heartless — exactly opposite of what dogs need, and exactly opposite of the reasons for having a dog in the first place.

A Manhattan inventor has come up with what the New York Post called “the next big thing for man’s best friend.”

Company co-founder Kevin Li says he got the idea for PlayDate after adopting his Rhodesian ridgeback-Lab mix, Hulk, three years ago.

“Looking at his sad face every time I left for work, I realized he … needed more time with his best friend.”

So Li (and we hope he worked from home at least a little bit) invented a ball for Hulk to play with — one he could control remotely, issue commands through, observe his dog through, and make squeak.

An adjunct computer-science professor at Columbia, Li described the $249 gadget as “Fitbit meets iPhone localization.”

He has already raised more than $200,000 on Indiegogo and has sold out of pre-orders.

With the rechargable ball, a pet owner can watch and listen to their pet, take photos, and record video, all from their iOS or Android device.

A stabilized camera inside provides real-time HD images. And a clear, replaceable outer shell protects the inner workings while allowing the camera — slobber aside — to see out clearly.

There are just three simple steps, its makers say: Download the free app, connect to wi-fi and “usher in the future of human-pet interaction.”

Sorry, but talk like that scares me, as do a few other things.

The shell of the ball is made of a strong, chew-resistant polycarbonate, designed to withstand rambunctious play, according to its makers.

I hope that has been well tested, because I’d prefer not to think about what swallowing a little camera and a lithium polymer battery might do to a dog (or cat).

In the world of pet products, many a toy marketed as indestructible has proved otherwise.

Even PlayDate’s makers are saying that part might take some fine tuning:

“As we put PlayDate’s smart ball in front of more dogs and cats, we may discover the need to make aspects of its design more robust; any pet owner will tell you there’s no such thing as an indestructible toy. We have purposefully designed features like the replaceable outer shell with this in mind. Additional design changes may be required as we perform more testing.”

And what, I wonder, will be the effect of communicating with — and issuing orders to — your dog via an orange ball? Seeing an orange ball wandering around the house on its own, and hearing a disembodied voice come from it would, at the very least, be confusing, I’d think.

I’m all for keeping a dog active, engaged and feeling loved when the owner is away. But it’s a mistake to assume that technology can make up for failing to give your dog adequate attention.

And — needless to say — one shouldn’t get a dog in the first place if one is unwilling or unable to give him or her their time.

Face-time, I mean, with no cameras, or wi-fi, or remote controls involved.

Before we usher human-pet interaction “into the future,” it might be wise to question whether we really need to take that trip.

Didn’t we pretty much have it down just fine already — most of us, anyway?

(Photo: from PlayDate’s website)

Oh snap! Dog and turtle play some soccer

This mostly friendly game of soccer between a dog and a turtle gets a little rough at times — but then so does human soccer.

Valeria D’Innocenzo Carlantoni in Civitavechia, Italy, a small town near Rome, posted the video of her dog and an unusually speedy turtle on her Facebook page.

At the very end of it, the turtle, after having the ball taken away, appears to snap at the dog’s hind leg.

Where have we seen that before?

Bartender gets $1,000 tip to help pay for her dog’s surgery

Man leaves $1,000 tip for dog's surgeryThe paw-print tattoo on Christina Summitt’s wrist often gets conversations started — not that, in her job bartending at a Holiday Inn in New Jersey, she needs any help with that.

A week ago Saturday, two customers asked her about it, and whether she had a dog of her own.

Indeed she does, one of whom is a Great Dane-Labrador mix named Tucker who, she told the man and woman, was at the veterinary hospital having emergency surgery after he swallowed a tennis ball.

The man commented about how expensive that was probably going to be, and Summitt confided that she’d received an estimate of $2,700.

But Tucker, who she adopted in 2011, was her baby, she explained, and she’d sell her car, if necessary, to pay for the operation.

After the conversation, Summitt got busy behind the bar of the Clinton Holiday Inn, and the couple ordered more drinks and dinner. When it was time to close out their $80 tab, the man filled out a tip for her on the receipt — for $1,000.

tipUpon seeing the amount, Summitt said she started crying and showed the receipt to her sister, who tends bar with her. She wanted to make sure there really were three zeros after the 1.

“I went back over and said ‘Sir, I cannot accept this, what is this for, why would you do this?’'” Summitt said. He told her to put it toward Tucker’s medical costs.

“I just stood there in shock. I walked around and hugged this couple.”

Summitt, in addition to working three jobs, is  a volunteer with a pit bull rescue group, according to CNN, which initially carried her self-reported story as an iReport.

Man leaves $1,000 tip for dog's surgerySummitt, 37, wrote a Facebook post about, and it went on to appear, on Easter morning, on the Facebook page “Why Bartenders and Servers Hate People.”

Not everyone believed it initially, but it was true.

Hotel manager Michelle Satanik told CNN she tracked down the customer to verify that the gesture was legitimate.

“Apparently this man does this quite frequently. Just a really nice guy and humanitarian,” Satanik said.

In case that’s not a happy enough ending, Tucker’s operations was a success, and he’s recovering at home.

(Photos: Tucker being dropped off for surgery; the receipt; bartender Chrstina Summitt; by Christina Summitt/iReport)

Fairy tails: A Cinderella story

Check out Cinderella: Not too long ago she was one of numerous dogs living lives of neglect with an animal hoarder in Tennessee. Tonight, she’s going to be the belle of a ball in New York City.

Specifically, it’s the ASPCA’s Annual Bergh Ball, the theme of which is “Fairy Tails,” which takes place at the Plaza Hotel. The ball draws a crowd of animal lovers, including community leaders and celebrities, who come to dine and dance in support of the ASPCA’s mission: “To provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States.”

Rescue by the ASPCA from a hoarding situation, Cinderella, now about 4 years old, went on to be lodged in a New York City shelter before being adopted by a New York City resident. She now lives in a penthouse apartment overlooking Central Park, which she visits every day.

Yesterday, Cinderella received the royal treatment at the Ricardo Rojas Salon in preparation for tonight’s big event.

(Photos: Courtesy of the ASCPA)

Wearing your dog out — inside

Every dog owner knows that a tired dog is a good dog.

But between busy schedules, foul weather and the recent rise in leash law fears here in Baltimore, wearing your dog out with a good romp can be difficult.

My spring schedule involves farmers markets, trips to see family and friends, graduations, cook outs, baseball games, and weekend journeys – all of which starts to eat into my time to exercise my border collie.

It has been made much worse lately by the monsoon season we have been experiencing — great for the crops, terrible for dog owners.

The soon-to-be-corrected hike in leash law fines to $1,000 really cut into the number of people taking their dogs to Baltimore parks, too, with many who once let their dog play off leash, turning instead to settling for a quick on-leash walk.

It’s harder to raise a dog in the city, harder yet when the weather doesn’t cooperate. A dog owner in an urban area has no choice. Assuming you don’t have a pricey doggie treadmill, you, like the proverbial mailperson,  have no choice but to be out there – rain, sleet or snow. And even if you do have a yard, you still have to deal with snow covered fur, wet dog smells, and muddy paws. This April, soggy as it was, reminded me how important it is to have a variety of ways to exercise your dog in your own home.

So, I thought I would share a few:

1) Spend a couple minutes a day training your dog. If you have taken an obedience class or even watched Victoria Stilwell, you have some basic idea of how to teach sit. Running through a couple minutes a day with your dog on behaviors they already know, or things you want them to learn, will keep them out of trouble.

2) Play ball in the house. This is only an option if you aren’t an antique collector, and it won’t work for large dogs unless you live in a warehouse. But roll a ball across the room to your dog. Let him/her bring it back. Repeat. Keep repeating until one of you grows bored.

3) Present new or new-again toys. If your dog has toys that have fallen out of rotation, or that are no longer fun, take them away. Wash them, and hide them in a closet. When you have a rainy boring day, or a 10th rainy boring day, you might be surprised how excited your dog becomes for any kind of distraction. Other ways to make toys fun, even if they weren’t before, include burying the toys in kibble for a day to get it smelling like food, and inserting replacement squeakers because, as we all know, it’s all about the squeak.

4) Take a class. This is great in the dead of winter and in the sweltering days of summer. Sign up for an obedience class. The spaces are climate controlled and you will be amazed how tired your dog is after an hour of using their brain. It also helps you have options for training sessions in the house.

5) Mental Puzzles are another great option. You could buy a commercially available dog puzzle, such as the ones here. You could serve dinner in a food dispensing Kong. Even dumping kibble on the kitchen floor, putting it in a stuffed animal that has already been gutted, or turning dinner into a game of fetch will buy you some exercise credits.

6) Set up a play date. If you have friends with dogs that get along with your dog, set up a play date. Move the fragile stuff out of the room, and let them play. Better yet, find a friend with a garage and get a couple dogs together. Even an hour of romping and wrestling will wear your dog out. Some of the daycares and training spaces in Baltimore are available for rent in 15 minute increments during off times. We rent out our training space for play dates or practice sessions any day of the week.

The key to surviving rough weather with a pet that requires exercise is to find ways to entertain them. If none of the above seem to be enough, I can recommend a great place to buy rain boots.

Pit bulls: They want you to want them

In honor of today’s Great Pit Ball in Las Vegas — an all-day charity event to benefit the Villalobos Animal Rescue Center — we bring you two videos portraying pit bulls in the kind of positive light that seldom shines on them.