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Portuguese Water Dogs Play Ball
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As the dogs stood alert and proud on the pristine infield grass, it was clear to see why this breed was chosen by the baseball elite. Looking like a large Poodle, the Portuguese Water Dog is often thought to have preceded its more well-known cousin. The breed is so old its actual origins are shrouded in folklore. Some say the dogs date back to before the time of Christ. No doubt about it—these dogs are cool.

Put Me In, Coach
Once the cheers had subsided, it was time for the B.A.R.K. team members to take their positions aboard the Jollipup. They seemed eager and ready for action. When Shadow’s male owner, Lloyd D’Augusta, was asked if he thought the dogs could go the full nine innings, he was quick to reply.

“I know Shadow can easily play the entire game,” D’Augusta said. “In fact, I’m certain she could go extra innings if it ever came to that.”

Fans in the upper deck and those watching on television could see the dogs waiting patiently as their boat bobbed in the water. The animals could hear the roar of the crowd. When things got exciting, they instantly went on alert.

But no homers came their way that first day.

Sue D’Augusta says she could feel the dogs’ readiness to jump in after a ball.

“All the dogs on the B.A.R.K. team were waiting for Barry Bonds to hit a home run to them,” D’Augusta says. “I could see them thinking, ‘What’s going on? Let’s get some action out here.’ But I’m sure we’ll get plenty of homers before the season is over.”

Not everyone is certain B.A.R.K. is a good idea. Many people have expressed concern. Animal Welfare Commissioner Richard Schulke says his telephone lines were ringing off the hook after the dogs were featured on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle.

“People wanted to make sure they’re not abusing and overworking the dogs,” Schulke says.

Dog lovers can rest assured that the Giants have taken every precaution to ensure that these valuable and beloved pets are kept out of harm’s way. The Giants are paying for a police boat and two extra officers to make sure there are no accidents.

Now, let’s play some ball.
 

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This article first appeared in The Bark,
Issue 12: Summer 2000
Bill English is an award-winning journalist and frequent contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle. English is the author of three critically acclaimed novels, The Cultivator, The Find and The Find II. He lives in the wine country of northern California.

Photo courtesy of the San Francisco Giants/Mikulecky

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