Meet the dog who stole our hearts and Lindor's HR ball

October 5th, 2022

With Albert Pujols passing 700 home runs and Aaron Judge hitting No. 62 on Tuesday, there's been a lot of talk about what you should do when catching a home run ball. Do you keep it and make a fortune selling it later? Do you return it to the player in exchange for a photograph and some merch? Do you just hand it off to some kid, like you're too cool for the whole thing?

Well, when Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor homered in the second game of a doubleheader against the Nationals on Thursday, this dog had only one answer: He just wanted to slobber on it as much as possible.

This wasn't a mistake, though: Giving Lindor's home run ball "The Sandlot" treatment was actually the owner of the pup's intention -- after he sacrificed his body for the pet's safety.

"Lindor hits the home run. I see it coming and I guess my dad instincts took over," Chris Howland told "It was literally going right for the dogs. I don't need them taking a 110 mile an hour baseball in the stomach. So, I reached over my girlfriend, it hit off my finger, hit off the seat and landed on the ground. We're scrambling for it. I came up with it and I gave it to the dog."

While Howland's golden retriever is Doak, the ball actually ended up with Doak's brother, Renegade. Originally, Doak, Renegade, and a third dog were all adopted by Howland's girlfriend's father, Jon, when they were born six years ago. After Jon and Renegade drove up from Florida for the game today, the pups got to hang out in the Citi Field stands. 

Little did they know they'd become viral stars.

"In the moment I was like, 'This is way funnier if I give [the ball] to him,'" Howland said. "So, I handed it to him and he was cool about it, right? He was holding onto it, chewing on it. They're both obsessed with balls to begin with, so one of them was gonna take it."

Howland plans on keeping the ball and putting it -- dog spit and all -- up on the mantel.

"They have plenty of balls, these dogs are spoiled," Howland joked. "I'll keep this one for the story."

Don't worry: The pups will get their own reward too.

"You saw them on the TV," Howland said. "They're not small dogs. They've had their fair share of treats, but they'll be getting a few more. Some human food for the special occasion."

As for Renegade's response, well, Howland had a guess:

"Give me my ball back. Please and thank you."

Photo courtesy Chris Howland