Groff's Garage: Every dog has its day
716 Sports Podcast is excited to announce Buffalo Beauts’ Director of Operations, Linda Groff-Mroz, will be contributing her behind-the-scenes perspective on the 2016-17 season.
I wanted to do something different to celebrate the end of Military weekend, and what better way to solute the weekend but by honoring K9 officers? I remember reading a K9 prayer about six months ago…
"I will lay down my life for you and expect nothing but love in return.
I protect all officers with my life, and would gladly take a bullet in their place.
I am sent into find lost children and fugitives on the run.
I find drugs and weapons and even bombs.
I am the first sent in and often the last to leave.
I am the nose and ears of the officers.
I protect and serve them.
I would die for any and all officers"
I needed a police officer and his K9 partner – it was an absolute must-have. Luckily, I’m not a shy person and while working my shift at Custom Edge, I just so happened to mention the Buffalo Beauts and our K9 appreciation game to an Erie County Sheriff. We exchanged information and I sent him an email immediately about getting the Sheriff’s department involved with the game. I told him that we wanted to have a K9 officer drop the puck, and he agreed that it was a great idea! Thank you to Seargent Dusza for passing the information to Deputy Lundberg and Haso! They were a complete hit!
Deputy Lundberg and I emailed back and forth and had a phone conversation about the logistics of the game and puck drop. His partner, Haso, is a 2-and-half-year-old German shepherd. He’s completely full of energy and loves Tim Horton’s coffee cups (yes I did make sure he got one when he arrived at the rink). Haso has better listening skills and manners then my own children…I may have to send them off for a ride along with Deputy Lundberg and see if my boys can come back knowing hand signals and better listening skills.
While waiting for their shining moment, Deputy Lundberg answered questions about Haso like a champ. Haso either sat, or laidd by the sheriff’s side and chewed on his toy. I gave Deputy Lundberg a plain black puck for Haso for practice, and he was super excited for a new chew toy. I escorted the sheriffs past the Beauts locker room and gave them the area behind the Beauts net to practice the drop. Haso was a natural.
The time came for Haso to meet the team. Oooh’s and ahhh’s came from the Beauts as the sheriffs were introduced. The sheriffs were super photogentic – I believe Haso even smiled, and why wouldn’t he? He was surrounded by a team of women showing him nothing but love and affection…Haso was in heaven! We snapped a few pictures and it was time for our main event.
Thank you to Canisius College’s Catherine Niederprum for singing the National Anthem and special thank you to Civil Air Patrol Color Guard for your help with both games this weekend.
Sheriff Lundberg was given the signal to head out to center ice and Haso was overwhelmed with excitement, he dropped the puck on the carpet…they had to pull a u-turn on the carpet and go back to get it.
Megan Bozek insisted on doing the ceremonial puck drop because she absolutely LOVES dogs. My only request was that Boz give Deputy Lundberg and Haso the K9 prayer sign that both teams signed. She was over-the-moon thrilled. The Beauts presented Deputy Lundberg and Haso with the sign before Haso dropped the puck. Sheriff Lundberg gave the command for Haso to drop the puck. Boz picked up the puck and Haso couldn’t wait to get it back. The Sheriffs walked away with a Beauts game puck and the K9 prayer sign. Deputy Lundberg thanked me for not only the opportunity but for the sign as well, stating it was not necessary for the extra gift. But, those who know me, I like to go above and beyond, it was just one way I could say thank you for their service.
Celebrating a day of the dogs continued around the rink. Dog Tags New York was there spreading the word about their organization. It is just amazing what Dog Tags do – they take rescued animals and place them with veterans coming home to help the healing process of PTSD. I made some great friends with the Dog Tags gang over the summer at the K.I.A Memorial Road March; Rein Butterworth and Brian Hamilton both received dogs from Dog Tags and they are both hockey players as well, so of course we hit it off right away. Butterworth made an appearance on the local news, spreading the word about his recovery and what his pup, Chopper, has done for him. It is remarkable what dogs can do for us just by being as affectionate as they are. They may not be here for our whole life, but we are their whole life.
I had the pleasure of meeting Jewell, a white deaf pit bull, she is the sweetest pup. Her handler, Gary, is a volunteer with Dog Tags. He let me take her around the rink for a walk and of course I stopped in to say hello to the Beauts. Jewell was so gentle and loving, I asked Gary many times if I could take her home. If you would like to do more, volunteer or donate to their cause, check them out on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/DogTagsNewYork/?fref=ts.
Beauts win! Beauts win! Beauts win! Beauts win in overtime! Now being a superstitious retired hockey player, this just means I need to have Chopper and Jewell (and of course Haso) at every game!
This week I will be pushing for ticket sales and celebrating Krusher’s first birthday. We are going to have balloons, her friends and of course what birthday party would be complete without CUPCAKES…That’s right, CUPCAKES will be at the game! Beauts take on Boston and if that is not incentive enough, CUPCAKES and singing Happy Birthday to Krusher.
Don’t forget your Teddy bears for our annual Teddy Bear Toss!!! These bears will be donated to Gold Star Mothers who will hand them out to veterans’ families during the holiday season.
The Beauts will be back in action at HarborCenter on Sunday, November 20, 3:30pm. Join us to celebrate Krusher's birthday!