This tennis tournament is using shelter dogs as ballboys

For the second year running, a pro tennis tournament in Brazil will kick its ballboys and ballgirls off the court. In their place will be the best tennis-ball-fetchers of all: shelter dogs.

If it’s like last year, the pooches at the Brazil Open in Sao Paulo will wear sweatbands on their wrists – ankles? – and scarves around their necks. They’ll be specially trained for the job, though one imagines that dogs need little prep for ball-retrieving. Giving up the balls? That’s another matter, as a video from last year’s tournament shows.

The dogs won’t be ball-chasers for the whole tournament, which starts next week. Imagine the slobber.

Instead, they’ll be on duty for an exhibition match aimed at promoting the adoption of homeless dogs. All six being deployed – named Cindy, Nanda, Pretinha, Mia, Arlete and Ovelha – come from two Sao Paulo shelters and will be available for adoption.

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“What do these dogs have in common?” Madalena Spinazzola, a spokeswoman for the pet food company that’s organizing the event, asked in a statement. “In addition to a history of abandonment and looking for adopters, they love to run after balls.”

The four ball-dogs that performed at last year’s Brazil Open all found homes, organizers said. One, Isabelle, was renamed by the couple who adopted her. She is now known as Serena.


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