SEATTLE – There’s a new face in the Mariners locker room – and four legs and a wagging tail.
Tucker, a 4-year-old Labrador retriever, secured his role as team dog after being adopted from Okandogs, a nonprofit dog adoption organization in Cashmere.
Jill Servais, wife to team manager Scott Servais, has been working in animal advocacy for about 30 years. She said she was impressed with the work of Tom and Jan Short of Okandogs.
“Okanogan County is the size of Connecticut and it has basically no animal services other than what private individuals are doing,” Jill Servais said. “So immediately, I was drawn to his work and I started supporting him in different ways through transfers, fundraising, advocacy and outreach.”
Servais said the team had been considering adopting a dog for some time, but it needed to be able to handle fireworks, food smells and a lot of people at once. When she and her daughter met the purebred yellow Lab, she said they were impressed by his demeanor.
Mariners Director of Major League Operations Jack Mosimann officially adopted Tucker in early July. After a slow introduction to the stadium, locker room and clubhouse, Tucker met team members rehabbing during All -Star break.
He was met with instant love, and not just from his new family.
“He was on ESPN, he was on USA Today, he was on CNN, he was on the Mariners site,” said Tom Short. “He’s really resonated well with the public, and everybody’s in love with that dog.”
A Twitter account following the daily life of Tucker, @MarinersPup, has over 24,000 followers. The account features frequent pictures and videos of Tucker running on the field, hanging out with the team and catching a nap before games.
Servais said Tucker spends nearly every day with the team, providing support and giving the players something to bond over. Servais said he may not realize how famous he is, but he’s living the “king’s life.”
Tucker is just one of the hundreds of dogs the Shorts have taken in. They started their “mom and pop,” nonprofit operation in 2014 with the mission to help dogs across the state.
In recent months, Short said their intake has grown drastically.
“We took in 801 dogs last year … about two-thirds of the dogs we take in are puppies, which we view as the most dependent and needy,” Short said. “I went up the other day to upper Okanogan, and I brought back 30 dogs, 28 were puppies.”
One of the programs Okandogs offers is called “mom’s last litter.” For every litter of puppies they receive, they will spay the mother for free to help reduce the rate of population growth.
The Shorts operate out of their home and are equipped for around 30 dogs, but currently have around 75 in their care, some of which are in foster homes.
Okandogs currently has about 15,000 followers on Facebook. Short emphasized the role their followers play in making sure the dogs receive the care they need. Even if they’re not in a position to adopt, he said short-term foster homes and donations are greatly appreciated.
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