FORT MYERS, FLORIDA | None of them passed by without looking. Most stopped and engaged, at least for a minute, while others hung around longer than asked. On Tuesday, the second day of practice for the Drive On Championship at Crown Colony Golf & Country Club, players exiting the 18th green were treated to a four-legged surprise. The Florida Gulf Coast Humane Society brought a batch of rescue puppies ready for adoption to the course. The idea was to collect videos of players engaging with animals.
Everyone involved got more than expected.
“Can you believe how cute he is?” Nanna Koerstz Madsen said late in the morning as she knelt on the grass outside the Crown Colony clubhouse and played with Freddy Mercury, a two-year-old Pug wearing plaid pants and a neckerchief assorted. Koerstz Madsen was soon joined by Ana Belac, who admitted to being a cat person, but couldn’t get enough of Freddy.
A dachshund mix also made an appearance, sitting on a bench in front of cameras as players petted him and shared their favorite animal stories.
In the afternoon, two Cherriers – it’s a Chikwawa-Terrier mix – stole the show. Ally Ewing wasn’t sure what she was seeing as she walked towards the tent the Humane Society had set up between 18 and the green. “Oh my God,” Ewing said. “Can I hold it?”
Fifteen minutes later, she hadn’t put it down. Two friends texted photos to Ewing’s husband, Charlie, the Mississippi State women’s golf coach. Responses ranged from “Keep her away from that animal” to “Don’t let her sign any papers.”
“Charlie said the day I retire we’ll have a dog,” Ewing said. “It’s a big change from ‘We’ll talk about it’. It’s there whenever I’m not traveling.
Then, fighting the urge to throw reason to the wind and bring the pup home, Ewing said, “It would be nice if I didn’t travel. I don’t need therapy, but if I did, it’s perfect therapy.
“I drove all the way here (from Mississippi). It wouldn’t take much for me to bring him back. We have a large yard. My mom would love to come.
So would Charlie’s team, although the trainer might frown if his starting lineup left practice early to play with dogs.
As Ewing’s judgment launched a counterattack against his emotions, Mel Reid walked up and said, “Are these available for adoption?” Reid fell in love with a blind dog mix with a steely white coat and eyes that only offered a fleeting whiff of blue.
“He’s only six months old,” she said after playing with the dog for more minutes than her caddie expected. “Because he’s blind, he’s very calm for a puppy. I can’t believe I want it so badly. I have to get away (from the puppies) before I do something.
Your dog doesn’t know or care what you are pulling. He loves you on good days, bad days, and every day in between.
Jasmine Suwanapura spoke for 20 minutes about her love for animals and the calm they bring. “I had a Lab mix when I was younger,” she said. “Golf made it difficult with all the travel.”
Then she looked at the serious face of the puppy she was holding in her arms and spoke the nostalgic words that most gamers said or thought after that trip.
“Maybe one day.”