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'Man's Best Friend Day' at Suns game a hit

June 19, 2011|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com
  • Thumper runs the agility course Sunday at Municipal Stadium.
By Colleen McGrath/Staff Photographer

Pepper, a 1 1/2-year-old shelter dog from Silver Spring, Md., attended her first baseball game Sunday as the Hagerstown Suns held “Man’s Best Friend Day” at Municipal Stadium.

“She’s very excited to be here,” said Tom Koutsky, 43.

“We’re wondering at what point she’s going to discover that’s a ball out there. I may not be able to hold her back,” said Koutsky, a Washington Nationals fan.

Koutsky said his family — wife, Sue, and son, Fredy, 5 — already was planning on coming to the Suns game for Father’s Day when they learned Sunday morning that they could bring their dog.

Among Pepper’s favorite things to do is chase a ball, or Fredy, Koutsky said.

The Suns are donating the proceeds from the $4 doggie tickets for the game to the Humane Society of Washington County, according to the humane society’s website, www.hswcmd.org.

Before the game got under way, the Corporal Punishment Flyball Team, based in the Hagerstown area, demonstrated flyball and allowed youths to race their dogs. The group meets in the Mason & Dixon Hall at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center. To contact the flyball team, email its captain, Renee Nappier, at R1performance.dogs@yahoo.com.

In the demonstration, the dogs took turns running a straightaway in which they had to jump hurdles, touch a wooden box that released a ball and run back over the hurdles with the ball.

The youths did not have to jump hurdles, but did have to grab a ball at the midway point.

At least some of the youths were surprised by the speed and agility of their four-legged competitors.

“I didn’t think they could jump the hurdles that fast,” said Brandon Diehl, 15, of Hagerstown. “Like, it was like they weren’t even jumping. They were just running and hopped over ’em so fast. (There’s) like no way to catch up to  ’em.”

Brandon lost to 2-year-old Ice, a long-legged whippet, but appeared to beat little Macy, a short-legged Havenese.

To accommodate the canine guests at Sunday’s game, water bowls and at least one small inflatable kiddie pool were set up around the ballpark.

Nick Jacobs of Chambersburg, Pa., attended the game with family, including his chocolate Labrador and his daughter’s chocolate Lab. The two, Addison and Sadie, are sisters.

Sunday’s game against the Delmarva Shorebirds, a Baltimore Orioles affiliate, was the first for the Labs, but Jacobs said they are used to traveling with the family.

Max, a pug, was having all kinds of adventures Sunday as he occasionally slipped out of his collar and wandered off, but not far. Once he visited the nearby grill, where hamburgers were being cooked.

“Max is an escape artist,” said Tina Robertson, 49, of Hagerstown.

“He doesn’t have a neck,” said Robertson, explaining the difficulty of keeping the collar on Max.

Max, who gets tired, and Toby Keith, a black toy poodle named for the country singer, also had the luxury of being pushed around in a stroller.

“They love people. Worse thing they could do is lick you to death,” Robertson said.

Robertson said she wanted to support the humane society, from whom she got her last dog, the late Lucky Dog.

Deb and Ken Wierman of Waynesboro, Pa., brought Beauregard, or “Beau,” a basset hound, and Otis, a Jack Russell terrier.

The Wiermans said a Shorebirds’ catcher was paying more attention to Beau than to his family, who was visiting for the game.

Margaret Cronauer, 76, of Hagerstown, brought Blossom Cronauer, 2 1/2.

Blossom, a Shih Tzu, posed for the camera, and then turned around and wagged her tail for the camera.

Margaret Cronauer said she and her husband, Charles, 79, go to all of the Suns’ games.

“We thought (Blossom) would enjoy it. She loves people and other dogs,” Margaret Cronauer said.

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