Apr 4, 2017Dog Days
What do baseball teams and dogs have in common? At first glance, it might seem like an unlikely pairing. But for the players on the University of North Carolina’s baseball squad, the sport wouldn’t be the same without their furry friend.
In December 2016, a golden retriever named Remington, or Remi for short, was brought to the diamond by the team’s Athletic Trainer Terri Jo Rucinski, MA, LAT, ATC, PT, CSCS. According to an article for The Daily Tar Heel:
“[Remington] is the only service facility dog in the [Atlantic Coast Conference], and is one of a handful in the country.”
So what makes this dog so special? Besides the fact that he knows more than 100 commands, both written and spoken, Remi is present for the baseball team at every game. He grabs water for the athletes and has even taken a ball to the umpire for the opening pitch of a few contents. In a video released by UNC and reported by Spectrum News, Rucinski states that Remi also knows how to high-five and fist bump. He does this with the players at the beginning of games and whenever they may need a pick-me-up.
While Remi’s actions on the field certainly help increase player motivation and excitement, it is in the athletic training room that he really shines. In the video, Rucinski says that Remi’s full title is “psychiatrist, medical alert, facility rehabilitation service dog.” And he has certainly earned this title, accompanying Rucinski to a physical therapy clinic each day, later moving to Boshamer Stadium to work with UNC’s baseball team.
When in the physical therapy clinic or athletic training room, Remi’s job is to act as a stress reliever for injured athletes. As any athlete who has been injured knows, a physical injury can become mentally and emotionally taxing pretty quickly. This is where Remi comes in — he has a sixth sense for players with higher anxiety levels, bonding with them to help keep up the faith that they can recover.
“We’ve had some kids who have had surgery this year, and they seem to have turned the corner quickly emotionally, which hadn’t really happened in the past,” Rucinski told The Daily Tar Heel. I like to think [Remi] had something to do with that.””