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Duck heads for dogs in Washington
This story first appeared on The Northwest Current, a weekly roundup of Northwest stories distributed by KOMO News.
A Washington D.C. park called Anacostia Park is going to be known for something else, the dogs who visit there.
That’s when the Washington Redskins will play the Dallas Cowboys at the D.C. stadium next month.
“Anacostia Park is a dog park. We are going to do a lot of dog training and we are going to start some training with the dogs,” said park manager Steve Wiegand.
He said their goal is to become one of the largest dog parks in the nation.
He said he started the site three years ago and it has about 2,500 dogs and about 400 owners that visit there each week.
That’s about two-thirds of the park’s total visitors. He said he wants to add some things to make it a little more upscale, like benches and some trash cans.
“I think it is a perfect place, right in our neighborhood for owners and their dogs to come. We try to make it fun for them,” said Wiegand.
That’s all being done while the team, the Dallas Cowboys, is planning to train their game day stadium dogs, most of them German shepherds.
That’s just to make sure they stay calm while getting in and out of the tunnel at the stadium.
It also to make sure they don’t bark or growl during the game.
It’s part of a new effort by the team and the National Football League to help get rid of stadium barking by using the dogs to help train the humans.
The dogs will be the official stadium “canines,” much like the official referee’s dog.
The Dallas Cowboys, in a statement, said they would be providing all fans with information on the program, which will take place in the days leading up to the games.
The team said they will work to include the canine program in pre-game ceremonies and the kickoff.
The NFL has been working to change the way fans think about their dogs. Last year, the NFL set up a website called Dogs in the House. The site was meant to educate fans about the dogs, and show them what to do with their dogs before and after the game.
The team and the NFL also set up a program with the Humane Society of the United States to try to have volunteers in all stadiums to help the dogs before the game. The teams also have a 24-hour emergency hotline.
The dogs’ trainer said last month the dogs would be ready to work on game day. He said they needed to “condition” and “train” the dogs before using them at the stadium.
The first dog to be a stadium official is a Golden Retriever named “Jagger.” His owner said he’s been training him to run around the stadium to find any loose animals before they get into the games.
The trainer said training the dog will be one of his first tasks. He said Jagger will wear a special harness. He said the team will not force the dogs to do anything.
“We’ll just be in the stadium, and we’ll tell the crowd what we want them to do for the dog and they just have fun with the dog,” he said.
Jagger is going to get an official uniform, and will be able to walk through the stadium freely. He will be wearing a vest. But he will also have a special tag on his back that will alert team officials that he is out on the field.
A cat on the field, however, is not a problem. It will be the first time a cat is allowed on the field.
“A cat is a cat,” he said. “They get picked up, they get returned to the house when the game is over.”
He said there have been no complaints about dogs and cats being on the field. He said there have been no accidents.
The team is paying for the cost of having the dogs and cats.
“The goal is to have fun,” he said. “It’s a great thing to have.”
The game will kick off at 6 p.m. on Saturday.
The special uniforms were designed by team owner John Pelleriti and his daughter, Ashley.
Pelleriti, a longtime Red Wing Area High School volleyball and baseball coach, said he has been thinking about the idea for several months.
“He wanted to bring a good, exciting game to the stands,” Ashley said. “He wants to build a community around his game.”
The Pelleriti team will still be using a local company to print jerseys, Ashley said.
Towards the end of last summer, Ashley made several prototype jerseys and Pelleriti approved them.
“I did a lot of sketches,” Ashley said. “I have a design team.”
She said they wanted the jerseys to be “cool.”
“For some reason, this is what came