OAKLAND — Ryan O’Hearn walked into the visiting clubhouse at the Coliseum and stopped in his tracks. His eyes went wide, his mouth breaking into a huge smile as he tilted his head to the side.

There was Reba, the famous dog of A’s groundskeeper Clay Wood, just chilling on the floor. So O’Hearn did what any dog-loving person would do and bent over to pet the sweet pup. Soon, O’Hearn was on the ground with Reba sprawled against him, O’Hearn breaking into a high-pitched voice as he scratched Reba behind her ears. `

O’Hearn, and the rest of the team, became infatuated with Reba during the three-game series against the A’s over the weekend. Everyone from reliever Nick Vespi to outfielder Aaron Hicks’ toddlers spent time her, all walking away touched by her charm.

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So the players have come to a simple consensus: They need a dog at Camden Yards. They are now on a quest, led by pitcher Cole Irvin, to get a clubhouse dog in Baltimore. They briefly considered other furry creatures, perhaps a guinea pig. But, even though that would be lower maintenance, it doesn’t bring the same endorphins that petting a dog does.

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“Anytime we’ve had a dog around the ballpark, there’s been some really good energy,” Irvin said. “There’s a lot of good science behind having dogs in the clubhouse. I don’t know the actual terminology, but if you are in a bad mood and you pet a dog you are able to retake that energy and make you positive.”

There are a few hoops to jump through, including getting approval from his superiors. Irvin brought it up to general manager Mike Elias, who just shrugged his shoulders at the idea.

“He didn’t deny it,” Irvin pointed out.

Then, he asked manager Brandon Hyde, who said he wouldn’t mind having a dog around. Teammates are already onboard.

“I wouldn’t be opposed,” said Gunnar Henderson, who already noted to his teammates that his dog wouldn’t be the right candidate because it requires constant attention.

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Next, Irvin needs permission from clubhouse manager Fred Tyler. Irvin is trying to be strategic about it — he plans to bring Tyler a schedule detailing where the dog would be during which part of the day and who would be taking care of it. Irvin has already volunteered to take it out every hour, and other pitchers could help on the days Irvin starts. Players or staff members could take turns bringing it home at night. The idea is to get a dog that’s over 2, to avoid having to spend time training it the basics.

There’s also the complication of travel. The team plays half its games on the road, with a portion of its staff traveling with it. Irvin speculated that the dog could go on local trips, to Philadelphia and New York, and stay with families during longer trips.

And, while there are still a lot of details to be worked out, Irvin already knows two things for sure. First, he wants it to be a rescue and he hopes the team will be able to pick it out together from the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter. Second, he wants it to be named Camden, regardless of whether it’s a boy or a girl.

They don’t know if they’ll be able to iron this out this year, but Irvin and his teammates are determined to keep pushing. It could, after all, be just what they need to help them get through the final stretch of the season into the stressful playoffs.

“I know dogs make me feel better and they make a lot of these guys feel better,” Irvin said.


Danielle Allentuck covers the Orioles for The Baltimore Banner. She previously reported on the Rockies for the Denver Gazette and general sports assignments for The New York Times as part of its fellowship program. A Maryland native, Danielle grew up in Montgomery County and graduated from Ithaca College.

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