Plan For Dogs To Replace Wimbledon Ball Boys And Girls Fails For The Funniest Reason
Little known fact: Dogs really like balls 🎾
There won’t be any dogs working on the sidelines at Wimbledon this year.
A recent plan to combine England’s love for both tennis and dogs has flopped in the funniest way possible. During a pilot program to train dogs to replace ball boys and girls at Wimbledon, organizers found that, sometimes, dogs just don’t want to give the ball back.
It appears the dogs did give it their best shot during their training at Wilton Tennis Club in London, though. They completed speed and agility tests, and were trained to run up and down the length of the court and to high jump over the nets.
But when it came to fetching, while the dogs successfully retrieved the tennis balls, the problem began when they refused to return the balls. Often, treats and a significant amount of coaxing had to be used to get the now-slobbery balls back (two rather important issues since timing and the condition of the ball are key elements of the sport).
“Our players did find themselves in a game of tug-of-war,” Martin Schiller, the club coordinator, told Daily Star. “We had a stash of treats on the sidelines to offer up as a bit of encouragement which certainly did the trick.”
In a nutshell, the results of their training ranged from “spectacular” to “something veering towards chaos,” according to Steven Mendel, one of the organizers.
“We thought this was a great opportunity to give pets in the UK an opportunity to do what they love the most, which is to chase after balls,” Mendel told BBC News. “The love of pets and their balls and Wimbledon all brought together.”
Organizers haven’t given up on their goal of seeing dogs on the sidelines at Wimbledon, though.
“It’s fair to say that [we’re a] work in progress and we’ve got a long way to go before we’ll be ready for next year,” Mendel said. “But we’re optimistic.”
I have to admit that as the pet parent of a dog obsessed with tennis balls, I found this pretty amusing. Try as I might, my dog has never gotten the hang of fetching. Sure, he’s very good at retrieving the ball — but the returning part, not so much (and if he does, it’s half-destroyed or covered in slobber, or both).
So, how would your pup do as a ball boy or girl at Wimbledon? It’s safe to say that mine would fail miserably (and hilariously!), but I do appreciate their optimism. And perhaps, instead of replacing ball boys and girls, they could all work together?