Joco Opinion

Bark in the Park this year includes a Keenan

Updated: 2013-05-28T21:32:20Z

By MATT KEENAN

Special to The Star

Over the years, I’ve taken our dog Bernie, an 11- year-old Wheaten, to many destinations. Some noteworthy outings include the Doggie Dunk at Leawood Pool and road trips to my hometown. Other adventures have been in the planning phase until my wife politely says something like, “You’re nuts.” I heard that declaration recently when I wanted to take her to KU graduation. Lori prevailed, Bernie stayed home and of course we saw many dogs there, enjoying the hill, greeting their family members as they walked down from the campanile.

But on Sunday, Bernie joined me at a place in desperate need for her chirpy demeanor. A place crying out for the karma of a real dog, not a fake tiger. Yes, the K. The Bark at the Park. Bernie was the rare ticket holder who cared nothing about Frenchy’s on-base percentage, Moose’s batting average or Yost’s penchant to pull Shields too quickly.

To get Bernie a ticket, however, first required completing a number of questions. Some were sensible, I suppose, like current vaccinations, and Bernie’s age. But others seem a bit personal, like “Is your dog is spayed/neutered?” That seemed random to me. After all, two dogs getting personal in Section 206 would create more action at the K than we’ve seen this entire home stand.

The second we parked, Bernie jumped out and was darting through the parking lot. Some tailgater left his grilled chicken sandwich solo and Bernie was heading right for it. I quickly activated the leash and she stopped just inches from an early lunch. The dude was a couple beers into his attitude adjustment and couldn’t believe a dog was busting his man time.

The pets and owners had to enter through gate A. The line was maybe 50 people/pets deep. It was like Noah’s Ark meets Cooperstown —large and small breeds, with a few of those “not sure your breed but it looks scary” types. Everyone was well behaved, but Bernie was one of the very few who has regular hair appointments. Let’s face it, she is the canine equivalent of Pippa Middleton and was drawing the attention of a couple cross breeds (Goldendoodles?).

Pregame there was a parade around the warning track, with one rule: Keep the dogs off the grass. Whoever made that rule doesn’t own a dog.

In the third inning Sluggerrr came by and, shockingly, Bernie didn’t get spooked by his tail perpetually hiked at 90 degrees or his large boots first worn by Frankenstein. He (she?) did a live camera shot and Bernie strolled into the camera view. She didn’t wave, act stupid or make gang signs. Cool and collected. That’s my dog.

And for the entire game, never once did she attempt to send a text or tweet.

The Chiefs wouldn’t dare attempt this — even for those preseason games where the fans get liquored up and never watch a play. Sort of like the regular season. But if they did, some of the promotional titles might be “Pitbulls + footballs.” “Dobermans + double coverage,” “Rottweilers + Red Zones.”

Royals Manager Ned Yost has been getting lot of unsolicited advice about how to turn this team around. Yost, described by Sam Mellinger as the least popular man in KC sports right now, has his team in complete free fall. Despite the loss Sunday, man’s best friend combined with our national pastime just might help turn this team around. Ponder this — the Cardinals had the Rally Squirrel that darted across home plate in a key playoff game with Philadelphia in 2011. The Cards went on to win the World Series that year. An image of the squirrel was added to the World Series ring.

Here is one fan hoping to return to the K soon with his BFF.

Freelancer Matt Keenan writes every other week. His book, “Call me Dad, Not Dude. The Sequel,” is available at local bookstores. Follow him on Twitter: @Mdkeenan2.

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