Hockey players embrace new ‘teammate’


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The Waywayseecappo Wolverines have a new four-legged teammate after a local dog worked her way into their hearts and their locker room.

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The Waywayseecappo Wolverines have a new four-legged teammate after a local dog worked her way into their hearts and their locker room.

Kiki has become a fixture in the Junior A hockey team’s room at the Waywayseecappo Community Complex, where she enjoys treats, naps and pets from players.

“Every day she’ll come down whenever the first person gets to the rink, and she’ll basically stay there until we leave,” the team’s director of media/marketing, Matthew Higgs, said during a recent interview, adding, “Kiki is in the room right now just sleeping away.”

Higgs explained that last season, Kiki and another dog were regulars at the rink. Kiki’s companion, Zeus, was adopted by team trainer Jason Hart, and Kiki, who has an owner on the First Nation, just kept coming when this season started. When she wants to enter the rink, she goes to the door at the back of the arena used by coaches and other staff.

Wolverines right winger Nolan Grier said he enjoys having Kiki around and will sometimes bring her treats.

“She always notices when people are at the rink, so she’ll come and she’ll actually scratch on the back door,” Grier said. “She just kind of knocks to come in, and of course we let her in.”

Kiki is full of energy, Higgs said, until she’s in the locker room. When the team hits the ice, she sits on the couch for a nap. But, when the players return to the locker room to hang out, she gets some attention.

“There’s always a few of them petting Kiki and loving her, and she’s a very lovely dog,” Higgs said, adding some of the players call her “Princess.”

Kiki also sometimes provides comic relief when the coach is running through plays with the team and she wanders in and interrupts.

Higgs said he believes Kiki provides some welcome support for any homesick players, some of whom travel to live and play in the Waywayseecappo area from as far away as Alberta and Wisconsin.

“It’s kind of like a therapy dog,” Higgs said. “It’s a long season, you know. It gives the boys a feel of home, even though it might not be their real home.”

Grier, who is from Wisconsin and billeted in Russell while he plays for the Wolverines, agrees. He said a number of players who travel to play for the team have dogs back home, so Kiki’s presence provides a welcome familiar feeling.

He said it’s nice to walk into the locker room and pet Kiki.

“She kind of makes it feel more of a home environment,” Grier said. “It’s really cool.”

And, save for one oops, there haven’t been any problems.

“At the end of the night, we’re always like, ‘Make sure she’s out, though, before we all leave because there was one time she was left for the night there and, of course, you know, she did what dogs do,” Higgs said.

He said the team has even bought Kiki dog food to keep her tail wagging.

“She just loves the boys and she just loves being there.”


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