Bark in the Park

Humane Eddy, the mascot for the Arizona Humane Society poses with two of their dogs in front of the Diamondbacks stadium while preparing for Saturday's Bark in the Park. Humane Eddy will be leading the Puppy Parade around the playing field before the game this Saturday.

Baseball isn't just for kids anymore. Or humans. This weekend canines can also enjoy America's favorite pastime when Chase Field hosts its first ever Bark in the Park on Aug. 13.

The dog days of summer in Phoenix usually mean the dog is staying at home and out of the dangerous heat, but Saturday's game offers a rare escape for man's best friend.

Pooches and their owners will be watching the Diamondbacks take on the Mets from the air-conditioned comfort of the Miller Lite Diamond Club.

"I think they're crazy, but I think it's a really cool thing they're doing," said Jeff Starkweather, co-owner of Starkweather Roofing, the event's sponsor.

Starkweather said a friend from the Diamondbacks called two weeks ago to see if he was interested and he jumped at the chance. Not only is he an avid baseball fan, but he is also a fan of the Arizona Humane Society (AHS) who will be receiving $5 from each of the 120 dog and 150 human tickets that are available.

While he isn't bringing his own dog, Starkweather plans on showing up early to watch the festivities, which include a Puppy Parade starting at 3:30 p.m. For anyone who loves baseball and dogs, it might not get better than the opportunity to walk with their companion on the warning track around the playing field.

The parade will be led by AHS mascot, Humane Eddy, who is actually a volunteer dressed up in an over-sized dog suit. Afterward everyone can settle into seats or hang out in the standing area for the first pitch at 5:10 p.m.

Water bowls will be placed throughout the club and a grassy area outside of Gate K will be fenced off to provide the dogs with a bathroom. When the owners need to use the bathroom or run to a concession stand pet-sitters will be on hand to help out.

Although this is a first for the Arizona Diamondbacks, dog days at the ballpark have been gaining traction throughout the country.

"We have seen other MLB teams have a lot of success with their fans bringing their dogs with them to a baseball game," said Morgan Ballard, media relations person for the Diamondbacks, adding that the fundraising tie-in with AHS just made sense.

The Arizona Humane Society will have volunteers at the event promoting their new campaign, Project 121, which aims to raise money and awareness to help care for homeless pets. They will be accepting donations.

Bretta Nelson, public relations manager for AHS, said that after seeing so many sick and injured animals day-in and day-out it is nice to be able to do something a bit more lighthearted.

"It's just a great opportunity to really showcase the joy of pets," said Nelson, adding "I don't think there's really anything better than to be able to go to a game in the summer and have your dog."

Tickets are $20 and owners must register for the event by 5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 12. All dogs must be over 6 months old, have a copy of current vaccinations and a dog license. They also must be accompanied by someone 18 years or older.

If someone is a season ticket holder the Diamondbacks will trade in their regular ticket for a Bark in the Park ticket. They still need to purchase a ticket for their dog, and are asked to make a $5 donation to the Arizona Humane Society to replace the money they will lose by not selling that ticket.

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• Morgan Sailor is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a senior at Arizona State University.

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