The beloved “ball-dogs” of the Brazil Open are back for a second year running. Last year, all six rescue dogs that participated in the tournament as ball retrievers found homes. This year, the six lucky dogs are Cindy, Nanda, Pretinha, Mia, Arlete, and Ovelha.
Each one loves chasing down tennis balls, and perhaps a little too much. The dogs participated as ball retrievers in an exhibition match between tennis champs Marcelo Demoliner and Joao Zwetschto.
While the players had a lot of fun on court, the game didn’t quite go as usual. The “ball-dogs” often sat right in the middle of the court, or even caught the balls in play.
“I think they need to improve a little bit because if they put dogs in a real match … we will have a lot of let calls,” said Demoliner, ranked 63rd in world doubles. “But I think it was a really nice thing to do today.”
Indeed, with their colorful bandannas and carefree smiles, the crowd couldn’t help but love the scruffy creatures.
The dogs are part of the Cão Sem Dono (Dogs Without Owners) program. Found on the streets of Brazil’s slums, they received “ball-fetching” training for the big day. If they’re as lucky as last year’s dogs, these lovely pups will be finding a home soon enough.