Brewers’ ballpark pup Hank wins Dog of Year award

Hank, the Brewers' "ballpark pup," seen here with his owners and host George Lopez, is honored with the "Golden Hydrant" trophy on stage at the CW Network's World Dog Awards.

The Milwaukee Brewers suffered a late collapse that caused them to miss the playoffs and won none of the year-end individual awards in 2014. Overall, it was a disappointing season.

But thanks to a scruffy, charismatic yapper (no, not Carlos Gomez), some good vibes and positive recognition have returned to the club.

Hank, the Brewers’ dog affectionately called the "ballpark pup," was named Dog of the Year at the CW Network’s World Dog Awards on Thursday. The event was a canine celebration that commemorated special achievements by Hank and other dogs in 2014.

Surrounded by celebrities like Paris Hilton and host George Lopez — whose level of and reasons for fame arguably rival those of Hank — the diminutive, white-haired pooch received the "Golden Hydrant" trophy on stage at the Barker Hanger, the site of the awards show in Los Angeles. Earlier, Hank, who’d traveled to the event with a Brewers contingent and his owners, walked down the green carpet, where he was greeted by the adoring, fido-phile press.

The Dog of the Year was given to the canine that made the biggest impact on pop culture in 2014. Hank, one of five finalists, triumphed by popular vote on the CW Network website.

Hank’s is a true wags-to-riches tail. On Feb. 17, the first day of workouts for pitchers and catchers at Brewers Spring Training in Arizona, the stray mutt appeared at Maryvale Baseball Park. Immediately beloved by the team and media, he was featured in major newspapers and magazines and on national talk shows across the country. The stray-to-star story went viral.

After unsuccessfully attempting to find his owner, the Brewers rescued Hank, named after former Milwaukee legend Hank Aaron, and made the dog an unofficial mascot. The team received myriad requests to adopt Hank, but ultimately brought him back to Milwaukee. There, he was given a hero’s welcome and formally adopted by a member of the club’s front office.

Hank was named Dog of the Year by an online vote.

Hank has competed in the Brewers’ famous sausage race, been honored with his own bobblehead day and even met his home-run-hitting namesake. When the dog underwent neutering surgery in early April, social media — especially through his unofficial Twitter account — made jokes and mourned.

According to a team press release, Hank has joined with the Wisconsin Humane Society in fundraising efforts to help homeless animals. The Brewers have produced Hank-themed merchandise, of which 20 percent of the sales go to the WHS, and, along with the Brewers Community Foundation, have raised more than $150,000.

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