Our puppy raiser group's original tour of the stadium was scheduled for February 7 but
was cancelled due to a snowstorm in metro Atlanta. We were fortunate to
be able to reschedule it for Saturday, February 22.
Even though Jim and I aren't big fans of any organized ball sports,
we were interested in participating in this tour with our guide puppy in
training, Don. The new Braves stadium was just built in 2017 and we were
curious to see it and the multi-use complex it is in.
We felt this would be a good exposure for Don since he'd pretty much
recovered from all the sensory overload the previous weekend at the
puppy conference near Savannah.
We arrived at the designated gate about half an hour early and
relaxed with other puppy raisers until the tour was ready to begin.
Our friend Steve with Karlin on
Jim and Brenley, one of the group members, took many of the photos included
in this entry, since I was busy handling Don. I'm including representative
photos of raisers, pups, the various areas we visited, the views,
and some of the exhibits.
All eleven puppies in our group attended, plus their raisers, family
members, some puppy sitters, and several people who are considering
becoming raisers. There were at least thirty people in the group.
It's hard to get 11 raisers and their pups to all
look at the camera at the same time!
(I was busy trying to get Don positioned -- above
red dot -- when Brenley took this shot.)
We were all over one side of the huge stadium, from the ground floor to
the roof and back again.
It was a great tour, although I didn't hear all of it. Part way
through the tour the area coordinator noticed Don drooling (which he does a lot
when I've got the treat pouch) and advised me to keep him "on the
fringe" of the group to be less stressful on him.
Don checking out Brenley's
There was a lot of sensory overload for Don on this outing,
not so much from the other pups and people but the totally new
environment -- lots of new sights, sounds, and smells.
And it was long, a good two hours where he couldn't go
busy. He didn't pee or poop, fortunately, although at least one other
dog did poop. But that sort of thing happens
and raisers are always prepared with the proper supplies to clean it up.
Don was on his best behavior, partly because of his
calm temperament, partly due to his training, and partly from stress. He inhibits
activates; most of the other pups in our group tend to activate
when stressed or over-stimulated.
The rest of this entry is mostly photos as we toured the stadium.
Jim poses with Don
View of field from lower level
Deck at roof level
Lounge area on roof; this raiser
and pup were also taking a break from the large group.
Birds-eye view of workers laying
new turf on the field
Our group in the broadcast booth
View to right from broadcast
View out from broadcast booth to
Braves' dugout (red dot)
There are lots of exhibits celebrating the Braves'
history. Here are just a few of the scenes and highlights:
1995 World Champion trophy, the
last one they've won
Above and below: statue and
tribute to Hank Aaron +
the living guide puppy in our group
who is named after him
Display of 755 bats to
commemorate Aaron's home runs
We descended further and walked outside at field level
to the Braves' dugout, where more group photos were taken.
Since I knew Don was getting tired by now, I took him down
into the dugout to rest before the remaining pups and people
assembled for photos:
Getting five of the eleven pups settled
before the group shots
Fabulous group shot by Brenley
with all the people looking at her and all the pups settled!
At the end of the tour we went back inside to listen to an inspiring personal account
by a young female employee, Katie, who is blind and has a guide dog named Jack
from Southeastern. She is in the red jacket two pictures below.
Because of her guide dog she is able to live independently, walk to work, and
maintain her job in public relations with the Braves organization:
Katie and her guide dog Jack are
on the right. The pup in training on the left is Banks, another
namesake. He honors
Walter Banks, an employee with the Braves for an outstanding 50 years!!
[In November, Banks graduated and
was matched with someone as a guide dog.]
We really enjoyed the tour and I think it was worth taking Don. He handled himself
very well for almost three hours from the time he left the car until we returned to
it and he was "back to himself" in a day or two. He's a resilient puppy.
This was good training for the guide-pups-in-training because someday
they may go to professional ball games when they are guide or service dogs.
It's bittersweet as I write this entry in November, 2020, knowing the Braves were
just one game short of going to the World Series after a shortened season
. . . playing to a crowd of cardboard cutouts of people and dogs --
and canned sounds of cheering --
because of social distancing restrictions during the COVID pandemic . . .
but at least they got to play some games and weren't unemployed.
Cardboard cutouts of
Katie with Jack, Hank, and Banks in second row
Next entry: another fun new exposure for Don --
hiking during the early azalea blooming season at Callaway Gardens
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
Casey-Girl, Holly-Holly, & Dapper Don
© 2020 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil