The furry playmates we enjoy cuddles with and chasing after down the park — and occasionally cleaning up after they’ve wreaked havoc in our backyards — have been tasked with a new job.
Can you imagine trying to play tennis with a green ball your dog has fetched and slobbered all over?
That’s what’s happening in the UK right now at the Champions Tennis tournament, albeit it with service dogs trained to help people with disabilities.
Our tail-wagging friends are making history in the UK this week, stepping on to the court to fetch balls for tennis legends John McEnroe, Goran Ivanisevic, Mark Philippoussis, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Mansour Bahrami and Tim Henman at Royal Albert Hall.
Check out the video in the the player window above.
Nicola Martin, of Canine Partners which provides the dogs, said retrieving dropped items was just one of the “hundreds of amazing things our dogs can do for people with disabilities”.
“Our specially trained dogs bring greater independence and quality of life to their partners, offering security, companionship and practical help with everyday household tasks.
“They can even load and unload the washing machine and fetch help in an emergency.
“Not only will our involvement in this event be great fun for the audience, our handlers and the dogs too, but it will be great to showcase our charity and what our dogs do for disabled people in the UK.”
Charlie Grave, of Champions Tennis, said tournament organisers were always looking for ways to bring something different to the event.
“(We) felt that introducing ball dogs will bring a completely new dimension as well as supporting such a fantastic charity. It’s going to be great to see the legends alongside these remarkable dogs,” he said.
The tournament runs from December 6 to December 9.