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Tag: sports

UNC’s baseball team dog helps NBA team get up for game — against Charlotte Hornets

My new best friend #Remington from #UNC

A post shared by JR Smith (@teamswish) on

An NBA player is crediting a visit from a therapy dog for getting him out of a slump and helping his team win this week.

Cleveland Cavalier J.R. Smith had only scored six points in the Cavs’ first two games on their three-game road trip, but after meeting a golden retriever named Remington he shot 8-for-9 and scored 18 points against the Charlotte Hornets.

“It was exactly what I needed,” Smith said. “Something to take my mind off the game and something to make me feel better.”

“It was right on time, especially for me,” Smith told ESPN. “I’m an emotional person. I live in my head. I don’t really express a lot of things. But let’s just say it was right on time.”

Even Cavs acting head coach Larry Drew gave credit to Remington for Smith’s game.

“You know, I think it was the canine,” Drew said. “I walk in the room, and there JR is sitting on the floor. … He’s sitting on the floor petting the [dog]. I think it was the canine that got him going. I can tell he’s very fond of that dog, and we’re going to have to get that dog back to more shootarounds.”

remiRemington is a therapy dog for the University of North Carolina baseball team.

The UNC team was playing in Charlotte and Cavs’ head athletic trainer, Steve Spiro, arranged for the get-together. Spiro said he read about “Remi,” and reached out to Tar Heels head athletic trainer Terri Jo Rucinski.

Remington, in addition to lifting spirits, provides companionship for team members while they’re going through rehabilitation after injuries and helps out with tasks such as opening a door for a player on crutches or fetching a towel for a player coming out of an ice bath.

“We had a great opportunity today to do something for our players outside of the normal routine on a back-to-back,” Spiro told ESPN. “We looked for it to be a potentially very positive impact in a casual setting where the guys could enjoy being around Remington, who is an extremely loving and talented service/therapy dog.”

Spiro said that to his knowledge, no professional sports teams have a service dog in their ranks, but that it might be something worth looking at.

The Cavs have been at the forefront of mental health awareness this season, with former Cleveland big man Channing Frye opening up about dealing with depression and Kevin Love penning an essay for The Player’s Tribune revealing that he has experienced panic attacks.

Retrievers bring back unforgettable win

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Undersized, unknown, and underdogs in every meaning of the word, the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) made history this weekend as the first 16th seed ever to beat a one seed in the men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament.

The 20-point victory over top-seeded University of Virginia was an inspiring thing to watch, leaving some fans with brackets smashed and hopes dashed; some celebrating a Cinderella story that, just maybe, outdid the original; and still more scratching their heads over the upstart team’s unusual (in the sports world) name — the Retrievers.

As golden as they were Friday night, the team’s not named for that type of retriever, but after the Chesapeake Bay retriever, the state dog of Maryland.

cbrThe Chesapeake Bay retriever has been the mascot of UMBC since its founding in 1966.

The costumed mascot was known as “Fever the Retriever” in the late 1990s. Later, the school had a live mascot, called Campus Sam.

At the beginning of the 2008 fall semester, a Chesapeake Bay retriever puppy was chosen as a new mascot. He attended many athletic events and an online poll was held to give him a name, Gritty, or True Grit, as a statue of a retriever that stands in front of the Retriever Activities Center.

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of UMBC in 2006, the University held the “March of the Retrievers,” a procession of 40 Chesapeake Bay Retrievers from the True Grit statue to the University Commons and then on to the UMBC Soccer Stadium.

umbmemeAfter UMBC’s startling win, the meme postings began on social media — most of them featuring golden retrievers or Labrador retrievers.

More than a few new fans of the team just assumed the mascot must be a golden retriever, but maybe that was because they’ve watched too many Air Bud movies.

Only a few dog breeds show up commonly in the names of college sports teams — huskies, of course; bulldogs, for sure. Southern Illinois University has the Salukis. Boston University has the Terriers.

And UMBC, the college with a long name, chose a breed that honors the state dog, but shortened the name — maybe out of consideration for the cheerleaders.

“Go, University of Maryland Baltimore County Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, go!” is a bit of a mouthful.

The Retrievers had their chance to get to the Sweet 16 last night, facing Kansas State University (whose mascot is, yawn, yet another Wildcat). Despite another gutsy effort, they fell.

On the bright side, though — one I’m sure that will be featured heavily in the “One Shining Moment” montage that always concludes the tournament — they had their history-making night, and what a night it was.

Meet two dogs who will fetch you some tee

Just as they are finding jobs on baseball teams — mostly at the college and minor league levels — dogs are making inroads into the college football game as well, and not just as mascots.

And let’s face it, being a mascot isn’t a job at all; it’s more like a position of royalty.

These two dogs, on the other hand, are earning their keep (though they regard it more as play than toil) by retrieving the tees after kickoffs in college football games.

Pint, a Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever, has held the position at UC Davis for five years. In all that time, “I’ve never seen him fumble a tee,” UC Davis associate athletic director Josh Flushman said.

When Pint was having difficulty spotting the tee on the field last season, kicker Matt Blair, who prefers a green tee, agreed to switch, for Pint’s sake, to a black one, ESPN.com reported.

When he first showed up for practices and saw footballs flying through the air, Pint thought they were ducks and wanted to chase them all.

Dr. Danika Bannasch, Pint’s owner and a geneticist at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, initially covered Pint’s eyes during every kickoff, then released him when the kickoff and run back were completed. Now, judging from the video above, he sits and watches kickoffs, and once unleashed charges out onto the field.

At Boise State University, a black lab named Kohl is handling tee retrieval duties. The tee-fetching tradition there goes back to the 1990s, It went on hiatus and returned in 2010.

Kohl also retrieves bats for the local minor league baseball team.

“He’s just a rock star, man,” said his owner and trainer Britta Closson, who works at Positive Pets Dog Training in Boise. “Once we put the confidence in him, he was unstoppable. You can literally teach him to do just about anything. I’m just there to tell him when to go,” she said.

UNC baseball team starts season with a service dog in the dugout

The University of North Carolina baseball team has welcomed a new teammate this year — a 2-year-old golden retriever named Remington.

Remington isn’t there to be a mascot, though he has learned some mascot-like tricks, like holding his cap for the national anthem, taking balls to the ump, and high-fiving his teammates.

But his larger role is as Carolina’s first athletics training room assistance dog (and the first in the ACC).

UNC reports that the dog’s official title is “psychiatric medical alert facility rehabilitation service dog,” which sounds like a lot of responsibility.

But, cutting through the mumbo-jumbo, what Remington does is help players recover from injuries.

He works with Terri Jo Rucinski, coordinator of the physical therapy clinic and staff athletic trainer for the team.

remingtonRucinski says student athletes who underwent surgeries in the fall seem to be bouncing back more quickly since Remington joined the team. “I’d like to think he had something to do with it,” she says.

Rucinski, who has worked with the team for 12 years, met Remington through paws4people, a Wilmington, N.C., nonprofit agency that places customized assistance dogs with clients at no cost.

He began his training when he was just 3-days-old. By 16 weeks, he was learning obedience and disabilities skills training. He also learned basic command sets, and knows more than 100 commands, including written commands from cue cards.

He joined the team last August after passing a series of certification tests.

Rugby star facing fines, suspension

An Australian rugby star faces fines of up to $50,000 and has been stripped of his title of club captain after simulating sex with a dog during an Australia Day party he and some of his crew attended.

Most of Mitchell Pearce’s Neanderthal-like behavior (sorry, Neanderthals) was caught on camera.

The full video shows the shirtless Sydney Roosters halfback forcing a woman to kiss him, then picking up the party host’s small dog, saying he was going to have intercourse with it and holding it in his lap while making thrusting motions. The party host also accuses him of urinating on her sofa.

pearceThe Daily Telegraph reported that Pearce faces a fine of up to $50,000, will be sacked as captain of the Roosters, suspended from the club’s trip to England for the World Club series and banned for at least six weeks of the season.

The team also reportedly intends to insert a new clause into Pearce’s $750,000 contract, stating it will become void if he is involved in one more off-field scandal.

The RSPCA in New South Wales says that, despite the appalling nature of his simulated act, no animal cruelty charges are forthcoming.

Catharine Lumby, the National Rugby League’s adviser on women’s issues, says Pearce — who was also fined after groping a woman in a Sydney pub two years ago — should be terminated.

“I think he should be stood aside. I think this should be the end of his career,” Lumby told ABC News 24. “The whole thing was an act of disrespect towards the woman. It just sends the wrong message and the NRL has to continue to show leadership on this issue.”

The National Rugby League could impose disciplinary measures against Pearce once the team investigation and a review by the Australian Rugby League are completed.

Pearce’s father serves on the American Rugby League Commission, but news reports say he wouldn’t be involved in any decisions on disciplinary actions against his son.

From all appearances — or at least based on the video — he wasn’t involved in too many when his son was growing up, either.

(Photo: Courier-Mail)

CEO who kicked dog charged with cruelty

The CEO who was drummed out of his job after video surfaced of him mistreating a dog on an elevator has been charged with causing an animal distress.

Desmond Hague, who lost his job last year after the video went public, was head of Centerplate, the food service giant that contracts with stadiums across the country.

He was charged Friday with two civil violations of causing an animal distress. The charges were filed in Provincial Court in Vancouver, British Columbia, where the incident took place — inside a luxury downtown high rise on July 27, 2014.

hagueHe is scheduled to appear in court Feb. 24, according to U-T San Diego.

Conviction of the charges can carry fines up to $75,000 and two years imprisonment, but it’s considered unlikely that Hague will see any jail time.

The video showed Hague kicking the dog — a one-year-old Doberman pinscher — and jerking her off the ground by her leash.

Around the world, the widely shared video sparked anger among dog lovers and calls for the CEO to be immediately fired.

Hague, who had been walking the dog, named Sade, for a friend, issued a public apology. Centerplate, after its board initially stood behind Hague, placed him on probation and ordered him to take anger management classes, donate $100,000 to a nonprofit to assist abused animals and perform 1,000 hours of community service.

When all of that did little to quell the continuing public outrage, the company forced Hague to resign.

Sade was taken into protective custody, and has since been returned to her owner, said Lorie Chortyk of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Canada.

Hague is not permitted to see Sade under terms of the dog’s release back to her owner, Chortyk said.

(Photo: Twitter)

Des Hague resigns as Centerplate CEO amid continuing backlash from dog lovers

deshagueAmid continuing backlash over a video that showed him abusing a dog on an elevator, Des Hague has resigned as CEO of the giant sports catering company Centerplate.

The Stamford, Connecticut-based company announced the appointment of a new CEO yesterday.

In a statement, the company’s board of directors didn’t say whether Hague’s resignation was requested — only that “the decision comes as a result of Hague’s “personal misconduct involving the mistreatment of an animal in his care.”

Since the video surfaced in August, dog lovers have been calling for Hague’s firing and threatening to boycott food offerings at stadiums serviced by Centerplate.

In Canada, protestors took to the streets to urge sports team to end their associations with Centerplate.

And a change.org petition asking Centerplate to fire Hague has accumulated close to 200,000 signatures.

Experts being quoted in the media are saying Hague’s fall shows the tremendous power of social media.

We like to think it shows the tremendous power of dog lovers, who happen to be using social media.

Centerplate provides food services to sports venues around the country, holding contracts with teams in the NFL, NBA, Major League Soccer, the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball.

The video — which shows Hague kicking the dog and jerking her off the ground by her leash — was recorded in July by a surveillance camera in the elevator of a Vancouver apartment building. It was turned over to the BC SPCA, which seized the dog, a one-year-old Doberman named Sade.

Hague initially told investigators the dog was his. Later, in a public apology, he said the incident was “a minor frustration with a friend’s pet” and that he had apologized to the dog’s owner.”

The BC SPCA says it’s now clear the dog wasn’t Hague’s, and her owner is seeking to regain custody.

Centerplate initially had little comment on the incident, calling it “a personal matter involving Des Hague.”

But as the backlash from animals built up it issued two more statements — one to announce that Hague had agreed to undergo anger management counseling, another to say he had been put on probation by the company, and had agreed to donate $100,000 to an animal charity and serve 1,000 hours of community service, according to Fortune.com.

In a statement announcing Hague’s resignation and the appointment of Chris Verros as CEO, the chairman of Centerplate’s board of directors said, “We want to reiterate that we do not condone nor would we ever overlook the abuse of animals. Following an extended review of the incident involving Mr. Hague, I’d like to apologize for the distress that this situation has caused to so many; but also thank our employees, clients and guests who expressed their feelings about this incident. Their voices helped us to frame our deliberations during this very unusual and unfortunate set of circumstances.”

The BC SPCA has recommended abuse charges, and the case is now before Crown Counsel.