They came to Marlins Park in all shapes and sizes, colors and breeds. They sat quietly, they barked and they walked.
But this was no ordinary walk in the park for the 150-plus dogs that flocked to the Marlins game Sunday afternoon with their baseball-loving owners for the annual Bark in the Park. All proceeds from the $10 dog tickets went to the Humane Society of Greater Miami, which has been staging the event for more than 10 years.
“There’s nothing better than doing something so family oriented like watching a baseball game and bringing your dog,” said Laurie Hoffman, associate executive director of the Humane Society of Greater Miami.
Half the proceeds from a 50-50 raffle held after the sixth inning will also go to the Humane Society.
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Dogs were allowed on the upper-deck Vista Level, where a spot marked “Dog Walking Area” sported carpeting, a fake red fire hydrant and water-drinking tubs.
Ronaldo and Stephanie Salgado of Homestead brought their two Pembroke Welsh corgis, Yoshi, dressed in the Marlins’ new colors, and Dori, sporting the Marlins’ old colors. It was their second straight Bark in the Park. If Yoshi were a Marlin, they said, he’d be slugging outfielder Giancarlo Stanton.
“Look at that body,” Ronaldo said. “He’s a specimen.”
And Dori? “She can be a [Marlins] Mermaid,” Stephanie joked.
“A great Sunday for me,” said Fabio Ramirez, 53, who brought his Dachshund. “Just take it easy. Watch a good game. Whether the Marlins win doesn’t matter.”
The Cleveland Indians won the game 2-0, another loss in a long season for the Marlins. But the dogs had nothing to complain about as their owners brought them out of the stifling heat and into an air-conditioned, dog-friendly-for-a-day baseball kingdom.
Brooke O’Donnell, her husband, Romney, and father-in-law, Armando Reyes, came with their two mini schnauzers, who remind them of former Marlin speedster Jose Reyes.
“They are fast, aggressive,” Brooke said.
The Vista Level dog playland also featured an owner-pet picture area with a Marlins background, and the nearby Sir Pizza concession stand was selling slices from a pizza shaped like a dog bone.
“The chef specially made it for today,” said the server, a big smile on his face, noting it was “torn into” by the third inning.
Naturally, there was a dog-themed souvenir area where merchandise included a tennis ball toy, black and gray dog shirts, leashes, ID tags, bandannas, food bowls and giant pet mats, all with the Marlins logo.
On the day the 2003 World Series championship team was honored, Monica De La Vega of Miami brought her dog, which spends its days chasing errant balls at Coral Gables Senior High, alma mater of ’03 hero Mike Lowell.
“She’s a Cavalier,” joked De La Vega, Gables High’s assistant softball coach.
Carolina Rodriguez of Paw Sitting, a Miami pet sitter and dog walker service, brought four of her charges to the ballpark on a “field trip.”
“They’re having a blast,” she said. “It’s totally different. It’s a lot of fun.”
Hebert Garcia of Miami walked his bulldog-Labrador mix into the stadium with pride.
“It’s a great idea,” Garcia said.
“I think she’s going to love it. She’s having a great time already.”