RUNTRAILS' 2020 JOURNAL

 

  

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  OUR PUPPY RAISER GROUP'S OUTING TO  
  THE ATLANTA BRAVES' BASEBALL STADIUM

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 29

 
"As the longest continuously operating franchise in Major League Baseball, the Atlanta Braves
have plenty of history to share with their fans. Tours of Truist Park are offered year-round
and take guests to many areas off-limits during games. With artifacts and exhibits
distributed throughout the ballpark, it is a definite must for any Braves or baseball fan."
 
~ from the Atlanta Braves website
 
 
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 the right

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 camera

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 more than 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 booth


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 Braves
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.

ADDENDUM

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 

Happy trails,

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Casey-Girl, Holly-Holly, & Dapper Don

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2020 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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