A doggone good cause – July 21, 2005

A doggone good cause

Jim Evans
Daily Tribune sports columnistPUBLISHED: July 21, 2005Does Fido have the ‘write’ stuff?

I’ve heard of ruff drafts, but this is ridiculous. Dogs writing essays on why their owner is the best pet person in the Detroit area? Right, and Benji was just Verne Troyer on all fours before he waxed his back and went to the dentist to have those canine teeth pulled.

But an essay contest it is, and the winning owner will throw out the first pitch prior to the Tigers-Oakland A’s game August 23 at Comerica Park.

It’s all for Bark In The Park, a fun tradition for pet lovers in the area.

Not only will it be an enjoyable evening for people and their pooches, the event also helps animals in need by raising money for the Michigan Animal Adoption Network (M.A.A.N.) through the sale of pet products and an autographed baseball auction that night.

Among those signing the baseballs were Jeremy Bonderman, Carlos Guillen, and Magglio Ordonez.

Pet Supplies “Plus” and Nestle Purina PetCare are sponsoring the third annual Bark in the Park baseball game.

Obviously dogs cannot write. Owners are invited to translate their pets’ thoughts and put them on paper. To enter, contestants just have to describe in 100 words or less why their dog’s human companion is “the best pet lover in Detroit” and send their entries to Bark in the Park Contest c/o Fucini Productions, P.O. Box 251507, West Bloomfield, MI 48325. Name, address and phone number must be included with every entry.

Being a dog lover myself, I have some professional advice: Make sure to utilize a dramatic paws or two.

Already, Joe Fucini of Fucini Productions has received a compelling tail from a greyhound whose owner rescued it from a research facility. I am not sure what they were researching, but I am willing to bet it wasn’t the latest in gourmet dog food, or feather beds fitted to canines.

Some more advice: Not all essays have to be so full of angst. It would be all right to simply express appreciation for your owner for room and board; tennis balls to fetch and treats to eat. Liberally lace your prose with fleas and thank yous.

Don’t be too proud to admit you have done wrong in your life, either. Maybe turned a Hefty bag or two full of garbage into a messy scene reminiscent of the food fight in Animal House. Or, in a moment of anger, nearly turned the family cat into Spam. Just be honest and spay you’re sorry.

In addition to throwing out the first pitch, the winning owner will get tickets for two to watch a future game with former Tiger Milt Wilcox. Wilcox, incidentally, is also a dog lover of unabashed proportions.

“If you see Milt, you are going to see his dogs,” said Joe Fucini, owner of Fucini Productions.

Amy Wettlaufer is the network manager for the Michigan Animal Adoption Network.

“In reality, most people are completely unaware of the tragic circumstances and horrific conditions in which a lot of dogs are living. In some communities, dogs are nothing more than cheap burglar alarms. They are living outside 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.”

Dogs come to the Network in a large variety of ways. Jessie, a Shar-pei mix, was found roaming the streets in Madison Heights. She was picked up as a puppy, taken to the city’s animal shelter, and was slated to be moved to the Oakland County shelter. Wettlaufer was contacted, and the dog wound up in the care of a foster family in Madison Heights.

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