Lions welcome dogs to Wellington rugby match for the first time video

CAMERON BURNELL/STUFF

SPCA dogs join the Wellington Lions at training to promote Sunday's Bark in the Park event, when owners can bring their dogs to the Mitre 10 Cup match against Canterbury.

Kicking back and watching sport is something best done with your mates.

Now, rugby fans have the chance to take their four-legged best friends to Westpac Stadium to support the Wellington Lions as they take on Canterbury in Sunday's Mitre 10 Cup duel.

Two aisles will be designated "dog friendly" in the first Bark in the Park event, which will convert a section of the Cake Tin into a Dog Bowl.

Lions halfback Sheridan Rangihuna enjoys a spell with an SPCA pooch during training in Newtown on Tuesday.
CAMERON BURNELL/STUFF

Lions halfback Sheridan Rangihuna enjoys a spell with an SPCA pooch during training in Newtown on Tuesday.

Water stations and special areas where leashed dogs can do their business will be set up, with Wellington SPCA volunteers out to collect donations.

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Dog owners will have a dedicated entry point and will have to sign a waiver when they arrive at the ground.

Several pups from the SPCA made a cameo appearance at Lions team training in Newtown on Tuesday afternoon.

One attempted to make off with a kicking tee in his mouth, while another was enjoying being chased around the park by several players.

Lions captain Brad Shields has been sidelined with a knee injury and was sporting a leg brace. But the self-confessed dog lover was excited by the prospect of seeing pooches pitchside when the Lions challenge one of the toughest outfits in the domestic competition.

Wellington Lions captain Brad Shields, top, says it's "a tough call" to say who's the boss in his household - the loose ...
HAGEN HOPKINS/GETTY IMAGES

Wellington Lions captain Brad Shields, top, says it's "a tough call" to say who's the boss in his household - the loose forward or his 8-year-old french bulldog, Mac.

"I have got a french bulldog at home and he's a bit of a character, and there's a lot of other character dogs out there, so it would be pretty cool to get down and bring your friendly dogs down to the stadium. It'll be nice," Shields said.

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"I think he'd love it more on the field, but it would be cool - seeing other dogs, hanging out with them in the couple of aisles that are open ... it's probably one place that you would never [expect to] see a dog there."

The 26-year-old loose forward laughed when asked whether he was the boss in his house, or whether the power lay with 8-year-old Mac. "It's a tough one. I'd like to say I am, but he gets his food when he wants."

SPCA marketing and fundraising team leader Vicky Hale said the organisation jumped at the chance to be involved in Bark in the Park.

"We don't receive any direct government funding, so all the money that is raised on the day will help us protect and care for thousands of animals across the region."

Rugby-going dogs will need to be on a leash at all times, and will need to either sit on the concrete or, if they're small enough, on their owners' laps.

Wellington Animal Services staff will be on site to monitor animal and owner behaviour, with entry restricted to one dog per owner.

"We encourage people to bring their dogs if their dogs are comfortable being around people, busy environments," Hale said.

"It's not the environment for all dogs, but it is a chance for people to share the game with their best friend."

 - Stuff

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