Watch out, ball kids – you may find yourself out of work in future summers. For the second year in a row, a handful of rescue dogs were employed to collect wayward tennis balls at the 2017 Brazil Open.
Previously spending their days running around the streets of Sao Paulo, six strays – Cindy, Mia, Pretinha, Arlete, Ovelha and Nanda – swapped their shelter kennels for sweatbands and a day spent raising awareness for dog adoption.
Despite ball-retrieving coming naturally, these mutts spent months training for the role, including the fundamental skill of giving the ball BACK. Basic commands such as ‘pick the ball’, ‘stay’ and ‘let it go’ were all perfected in the lead up to their professional sporting debut.
Unfortunately, employment wasn’t permanent. All six dogs were only on duty for an exhibition match between two international players, but still ended up crowd favourites. Each time a ball hit the net or bounced off court, the pooches leapt straight into action, much to the excitement of onlookers.
Source: BBC UK
With over 1,000 abandoned dogs housed in Projeto Segunda Chance and Cão Sem Dono alone, the initiative was part of a bigger message than just a family-friendly show. The event organiser, Marli Scaramella, told Fox News Latino: “The idea is to show people that a well-fed and well-treated animal can be very happy.” The initiative seems to have had a positive effect: all four of last year’s tournament paw-ticipants found homes with crowd fans immediately following their ball-dog duties.
Source: Washington Post