Every dog had his day – at least, the lucky dogs who made it from the slums and empty lots to an exhibition tennis match. To give a helping paw to the cause of homeless dogs, an exhibition tennis game at the Brazil Open featured four dogs who had been trained to work as “ball dogs,” reported CNN.
Coming from locations such as abandoned lots as well as slums in the Sao Paulo area, the four dogs learned how to retrieve tennis balls that were out of play. They then performed their role as “ball dogs” by happily running to get the balls to give them back to dog trainers and players.
The success of the dogs showed just how smart they were and how eager to please. The dogs not only had to learn to retrieve the tennis balls, but they also had to learn to only go after balls that were out of play as well as to whom to return them.
“We want to show that abandoned dogs can be adopted and trained,” explained Andrea Beckert, a trainer from the Association of Animal Wellbeing. “After all, it’s not easy to get a dog to only pick up the lost balls, and then to give them up!”
The four dogs were named Frida, Mel, Isabelle and Costela. And the last dog’s name was chosen for a heartbreaking reason, because it means “rib” in Portuguese. Andrea revealed that when he was found in an empty lot, he was so underweight and “ravaged by ticks” that the name seemed appropriate.
The “ball dog” display shows only a handful of dogs, but Andrea revealed that the association for which she is a trainer now has 1,200 dogs. The exhibition tennis match was designed to provide awareness of just how great such dogs can be.
During the match, the dogs sported orange bandannas. They stole the spotlight, earning their own cheers for their performance running around to collect the lost balls. Those competing in the match, Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena and Portugal’s Gastao Elias, were supportive as well as the crowd. The ball dogs also will be part of the award ceremony.