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Take Your Dog to the Ballgame - In Chicago

By: Rebecca Sweat

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Once a year, a Chicago White Sox baseball game is sure to "go to the dogs," and we're not talking about low scores, striking out or fights on the field. For the past six years, the team has set aside one game every season as "Dog Day," allowing pet owners to bring canine companions to Comiskey Park.

On April 20, approximately 550 canines of all breeds, shapes and sizes will watch America's favorite pastime, sitting side-by-side their owners as the White Sox host the Detroit Tigers. All dogs are admitted free of charge with their owner's paid admission ticket.

The day involves a pre-game parade on the field, vendor booth exhibits, free health checkups from veterinarians, complimentary massages from a pet massage therapist, as well as other promotional "goodies" that fans can bring home.

A Howling Success

Both the White Sox staff and pet owners agree that last year's Dog Day was a howling success. "It's successful because it's unique, plus it's a great way for people to do something WITH their dogs," says Rob Gallas, the team's senior vice president for marketing and broadcasting.
Chicago resident Brad Collins has taken his golden retriever, Spike, with him to the past three Dog Days at Comiskey Park. "I wouldn't miss it for the world," Collins says. "It's one way to combine two of my top interests – baseball and my dog – and show support for my team at the same time."

Another White Sox fan, Kathy Sutton of Arlington Heights, Ill., says her Chihuahua, Taco, is part of their family. "We take Taco wherever we go if we can – camping, to the beach, to visit the relatives, on out of town trips. So the one day a year we can take him with us to the Sox game, we want to take advantage of that too," Sutton says.

Something Different for the Fans

Dog Day was conceived in a brainstorming session by the White Sox marketing department as "something different" for the fans, specifically, dog lovers. "We thought, 'What a great way for people to enjoy a day at the ballpark with man's best friend,'" Gallas says. "Indeed, the folks who bring their dogs have a great day. Everybody's in a good mood."

Gallas says they have had very few problems with fighting by the dogs or with excessive barkers. "Dog owners seem to use very good sense when it comes to knowing whether their dog's temperament is right to be among so many other dogs and people," he says.

What about cleanup after the game? "It isn't a big deal," Gallas says. "We hire a company to clean up any accidents. We provide a special area of sod and plastic fire hydrants on the outfield concourse for the dogs." But he adds with a chuckle, "I would not want to be the one who has to roll up and remove the sod at the end of the day."

Interested fans should call the ticket office to receive registration documents now. All dogs must show proof of vaccination and license. For more information, call 312-674-1000.

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