Earlier this week when I drove my pet home from Atlanta, I mentioned a story I had written several years ago about Mets and their pets. I received several emails requesting I post the story. I finally found it, so here goes … Perfect timing, too, because tonight actually is “Dog Day at Shea.”
The story might be dated, but the sentiments aren’t.
NEW YORK – Throughout his career, Tom Glavine has been known for “painting the black,” for his immaculate control on the field and off it, for his sharp perception of the game’s most compelling issues.
This time, the topic was pets.
“They give us the unconditional love we all look for,” Glavine said. “There’s no arguing. There’s no bickering. They don’t care whether you had a good day or a bad day. They are just happy to see you.”
The Mets will be happy to see their fans’ canine buddies tonight â€“ because it’s “Dog Day at Shea,” a promotion where fans can bring their dogs and watch the game from the outfield picnic area.
Who would bring a dog to a baseball game?
Well, it is for charity – North Shore Animal League America benefits. But it’s also something best appreciated by a person with a special bond to his or her dog.
As a child, Glavine had such a bond with the family shepherd-and-collie mix, Dennis. He and wife Christine, parents of Amber and sons Jonathan, Peyton and Mason, appreciate the roles of friend, companion and protector played by their yellow Lab, Scoots, and golden retriever, Maggie.
“The kids love them,” Glavine said. “When they come home, the first thing they want to do is see the dogs.”
Steve Trachsel had a red-tail boa constrictor growing up that he sold to a friend. But before thinking of him as heartless, note that he promised his two children, Brendan and Lauren, a dog when he retires.
“My son keeps asking me how long I’m going to keep playing,” Trachsel said.
Trachsel’s decision to play isn’t based on his reluctance to walk a dog at 6 in the morning. He lives in San Diego, so that might not matter. If he lived in Massachusetts, where Glavine grew up, he might think differently about those mornings in January.
Billy Wagner grew up in Virginia, where his mother, Yvonne Hall, trained dogs. His constant companions were Penny, a Doberman pinscher, and Molly, a German shepherd.
“We didn’t have a lot growing up,” Wagner said. “For a kid growing up, a dog was your life.”
Today Wagner, wife Sarah and their children, William, Jeremy and Olivia, are attached to a Maltese named Lilly, and Maggie, a mixed breed he affectionately defined as “miscellaneous.”
However, the one Wagner remembers is Houston, a boxer he got when he broke in with the Astros in 1995.
Wagner knows all about bonds. When a lump on Houston’s hip was diagnosed as cancerous, Wagner talked to his friend during the long drives to the vet.
“I was driving an hour and a half a couple times a week so he could get his treatment,” Wagner said.
Many in the picnic area at Shea tonight would do the same.
David Wright would.
His father, Rhon, a police officer in Norfolk, Va., worked on the K-9 detail and brought home Gunner, a German shepherd: crime fighter by day, loving buddy by night.
“When he was at work, he was doing his job. He was very serious,” Wright said. “But when my dad would bring him home, he would turn into a pet.”
Wright got a boxer last year he named Homer – it was a better baseball choice than E-5.
The dog now lives with Wright’s parents in Virginia. Thinking Homer was lonely, Wright’s mother got him a companion shepherd named “Shea.”
Wright gets attached to his pets, and feels the loss when they are gone. During spring training, he got a call from home, that one of the shepherds his father brought home had died.
“It shakes you up,” Wright said. “They are family members.”
MORE ABOUT `DOG DAY’
Tickets are $30 plus $5 for the dog, and fans with their pets will watch the game from the picnic area at Shea Stadium. The dogs must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet and must be fully vaccinated, including rabies. Water will be provided.
North Shore Animal League America, headquartered in Port Washington, is the
largest no-kill animal-rescue and adoption organization in the world.
Reach John Delcos at firstname.lastname@example.org.