“Play Ball!”

Man with dog outside Nationals Park.
Washington Nationals fan David and his dog, Lucy, getting into the spirit before Opening Day 2015. (David went to the game—Lucy did not.)

I’m a huge baseball fan, and I consider this one of the most exciting phrases in the English language. I have also written previously about how much I like to take Sirius Black out and about with me, so you might think that the increase in dog-nights at baseball stadiums would be a perfect fit.

Not so fast.

One of the most important elements of taking your dog out is to select the right places to go. By all the reports I have heard, most of these events are well-run, and the money raised from “dog tickets” goes to support good causes, but that doesn’t mean these events are well-suited to all dogs. They definitely are not a good match for Sirius Black.

Sirius hates loud noises. Nationals Park holds over 40,000 fans at full capacity, and on non-dog days at least, they have fireworks for Nationals home runs. In fact, I once attended (without a dog) a dog-game at a minor league park which had a fireworks display after the game! Many of the people with dogs left before the fireworks began, but the distance between the stadium and parking lot was such that it was impossible to stay to the end of the game and still be out of (canine) earshot before the fireworks started.

Sirius can be unpredictable with people who act unpredictably. There are few classes of people more unpredictable than sports fans who have been drinking heavily.

Sirius gets excited around other dogs. Depending on the layout of the park, many of these events are organized to provide space between canine fans. However, there are bound to be encounters at the ticket gates or the concession stand.

Driving to and parking at the ballpark are stressful. I am fortunate enough to live in a city with a ballpark that is easily accessible by public transit. However, the public transit system is not open to pets. In order to take Sirius, I would have to drive to the stadium and park.

“Is a trip to the ballpark right for my dog?”

Only you can answer this question, but it’s important to think through the different factors that are involved. If you have questions about how the event will be set-up, contact the team or the organizing non-profit.

If you decide to go, make sure you follow all regulations about where to enter and exit the ballpark, find out where dog “relief” areas have been set up, and bring water for your dog on a hot day. Then watch your dog for signs of stress. Be prepared to leave if the experience is pushing the dog over threshold.

If your desire to go is motivated by a wish to support the sponsoring animal-related charity, you can make a direct donation instead.

“Where should I bring my dog instead?”

dog at coffee shop
Sirius Black during a recent visit to a coffee shop.

If you decide that a major league game is too much for your dog, there are lots of other dog-friendly destinations around. I have written about some of them before, and plan additional Out and About posts.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, we took Sirius Black to our local coffee shop. We selected a time that would be relatively quiet and stocked up on treats before we headed out. We selected seats where he wouldn’t be stressed by lots of people passing close-by, and kept our visit short.

Have a good suggestion about where to take your dog to get out and about? Have you attended a dogs at the ballpark event with your dog? Share your advice and recommendations in the comments.

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