Hank the Ballpark Pup has hit another walk-off.
The lovable Bischon Frise-mix stray who stumbled onto the Milwaukee Brewers’ Spring Training facility last February and into the hearts of baseball fans and dog lovers across the globe was named Dog of the Year on Thursday night at the World Dog Awards, which was broadcast on the CW Network and hosted by comedian/actor George Lopez. (Watch Hank accept his award.)
Hank, who was adopted informally by the Brewers’ players and fans and specifically by the team’s legal counsel, was an Internet sensation in 2014. Along with being named to the team’s roster, Hank participated in the Brewers’ famous Hot Dog races, posed for pictures with adoring fans at Miller Park, and inspired all forms of team-sponsored merchandise, from T-shirts to coffee mugs to a “BobbleHank” that led to a sold-out game in mid-September. Perhaps not coincidentally, the Brewers enjoyed a surprisingly successful season on the field, staying in postseason contention until late September.
Named for the Brewers’ Hall of Fame icon Henry “Hank” Aaron, Hank the dog helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Wisconsin Humane Society.
But Hank was hardly the only Top Dog at the World Awards. Stella, from Modern Family, was named top television dog, while Baxter, the canine hero of the Anchorman movies, was awarded top movie dog.
Prince Hilton was a two-time winner: A-List Dog and Celebrity Dog Selfie, for posing with her owner, Paris Hilton.
Via online balloting, fans selected winners in viewer-generated categories such as Jiff the Pomeranian (@jiffpom on Instagram) for “Most Pawpular” (awarded to the dog with the most influential social media presence) and Tillman, the skateboarding dog for “Hot Dog” (awarded to the most talented extreme sports dog).
Perhaps the most touching award went to Izzy the Golden Retriever and Daniel, the Army First Lieutenant, for “Happiest Reunion.”
Ian Somerhalder, star of the Vampire Diaries, won the first-ever “Dog’s Best Friend” award by the ASPCA, given to a celebrity who advanced the welfare of homeless dogs and other dog-related causes. The actor has aided the animal community via his charitable organization, the IS Foundation.
“This is truly such an honor,” Somerhalder said during his acceptance speech. “To be here tonight with all these furry creatures that truly impact our lives, it’s a blessing and it’s incredible.”
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About the author: Jeff Goldberg is a freelance writer in Quincy, Mass. A former editor for MLB.com and sportswriter for the Hartford Courant who covered the University of Connecticut’s women’s basketball team (Huskies!) and the Boston Red Sox, Jeff has authored two books on the UConn women: Bird at the Buzzer (2011) and Unrivaled (2015). He lives with his wife, Susan, and their rescue pup, Rocky, an Italian Greyhuahua/Jack Russell mix from a foster home in Tennessee, hence the name Rocky (as in Rocky Top).