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Take My Dog Out to the Ballgame

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Take My Dog Out to the Ballgame

I reside in the San Francisco Bay Area. Even though I don’t usually follow baseball, it’s been pretty hard to miss all of the hype around here lately. It brought to mind a baseball game that I attended last summer with my dog. That’s right, with my dog. The San Francisco Giants invite dogs once a year to the AT&T ball park for the Dog Days of Summer ball game.

A portion of proceeds benefited the San Francisco SPCA and dogs had their own bleacher seats. When I learned that they were expecting 600 dogs, I thought it would be great fun for us. After all, Sanchez is a career change dog from Guide Dogs for the Blind and had a great amount of experience in large crowds, in a variety of social settings, when he was in training as a puppy. I hadn’t been to a ballgame since I left New York, over 20 years ago, so I thought I would also enjoy the experience.

Before the game, I took Sanchez for a long off-leash hike, wanting to tire him out before the big event. When I got to the ballpark, I was immediately impressed by the organization. There were very helpful volunteers from the SF/SPCA all around. Kiddie pools were everywhere for drinking water for all the dogs. The parade was very fun. We all got to walk around the outside of the field and sometimes saw our pictures with our dogs up on the large screen. I was pleased with how well-behaved all the dogs were. We then found our seats in the bleachers. (I could speak on the danger of dogs placed too closely together, but I’ll leave that for a dog trainer or animal behaviorist to comment on.)

All was fine, until the game actually started. My last time at a baseball game was at Shea Stadium to see the Mets in 1986. Mets fans are not known to be subdued, so I doubt it was a quieter environment than a Giants game. But I was younger and wasn’t yet aware of sensory overload. When the game started and all of the yelling and screaming and music that augmented it began, I realized that all the dogs were being subjected to a very stressful soundscape. I became concerned that this was not a conducive environment for calm dogs. Because Sanchez is a Labrador, his oral stimulation took over his aural awareness. By appearance, he seemed as happy as can be with his nose searching all the peanut shells and spilled food on the ground. In addition, people were tossing him French fries because “he’s just so cute”. As you can imagine, that’s one of my top pet peeves (pun intended).

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Read more: Animal Rights, Behavior & Communication, Blogs, Dogs, Everyday Pet Care, Pets, Safety, , , , , ,

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Lisa Spector

Lisa Spector is a concert pianist, Juilliard graduate, and canine music expert. She is co-founder of Through a Dog's Ear, the first music clinically demonstrated to calm the canine nervous system. Their new high-tech pet gadget, iCalmDog, is the portable solution to canine anxiety. Lisa shares her home and her heart with her two "career change" Labrador Retrievers from Guide Dogs for the Blind, Sanchez and Gina. Follow Lisa's blog here.

48 comments

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5:42AM PST on Feb 19, 2011

There are sound protections for dogs too if you would like to take them with you to an event. I wouldn't do it myself, if I still had a dog, but it's good they are available.

2:53PM PST on Feb 2, 2011

Thanks!

3:22AM PST on Nov 23, 2010

thanks

12:46PM PDT on Nov 6, 2010

I wish I still had my dog.

2:59PM PDT on Nov 5, 2010

I'm a NY'er major animal lover and sports fan, i live in So. Florida now and we have something similar put on by the Broward County ASPCA, we call it BARK AT THE PARK....and it's awesome!! I believe this is a fun way to share with your pets and donate to a wonderful cause at the same time but i do agree it has to be up to the owner who ultimately knows her/his pet. Mine have never had a problem, they enjoy it as long as they have tons of water and some treats & always keep an eye on the other but of couse everyone attending knows how to treat an animal.we're here with the ASPCA, we all love animals. We also have an annual walk and it has been my experience that I have not seen any problems such as fights, etc. Bottom line is that the owner can take advantage of beautiful events like these knowing in advance how the pet reacts to sounds or crowds and then enjoy them to the max! We love them and always make it a point to take Sandy (terrier mix) with her best friend Bailey (beagle) so many times they could care less about the others, they just want to be together!

9:43AM PDT on Nov 3, 2010

Great article! I think I probably would have jumped at the opportunity to take my dog with me to an event like this. Your insight will certainly cause me to consider the stress of the environtment on her. Thanks for raising awareness!

5:54AM PDT on Nov 2, 2010

I see both sides here. I think it's an amazing thing that the Giants are doing for the animals of San Francisco, however despite knowing that dogs have highly sensitized it probably would never have occurred to me that all the ballpark noises would be too much for them. As a lifelong dog and cat owner and animal activist, I am amazed that all the stimulation of so many other animals and the excitement of the ballpark experience did not cause any negative behaviors on the part of the animals or their owners. My own rescued pit bull mix, Willie, probably would have loved all the dogs and wanted to play and jump all over them, so I probably would not take him to any place with so much going on at once, but each owner has to make that decision because being a petperson means being responsible as well as knowledgeable about your pet.It sounds like the people of San Francisco handle this situation very well as it has become an annual event benefitting the SPCA. Good for the animals, good for the team, good for the city. As a lifelong Yankee fan, may I say congratulations on a well deserved championship. The Giants were a pleasure to watch!

8:58PM PDT on Nov 1, 2010

noted

7:22PM PDT on Nov 1, 2010

Noted.

7:16PM PDT on Nov 1, 2010

I would never do that! Dogs have so much much more sensitive hearing!! How horrible hard and loud the woices are in stadium,it must be a torture for a dog and very bad for the ears.
Sorry not a good idea.

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