These shelter dogs were 'ball boys' at the Brazil Open and stole the show.
Tennis just got a whole lot better.
Frida, Mel, Isabelle, and Costela were the talk of the court at the Brazil Open last week.
Nope, those aren't tennis stars you've never heard of. They're shelter dogs.
Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain and Gastao Elias of Portugal were the human players facing off in the exhibition game (the two will play again when it counts in the tournament's quarter-finals).
But let's face it — the pups, who entertained the crowd as the game's ball boys (er, ball hounds?), totally stole the show.
Like when they entered the arena and immediately made tennis a million times more adorable.
Or when they played a game of their own by faking out the players while returning the balls.
And how precious was it when the pups got a little confused by the crowd and cameras?
Hey, that's an intimidating environment to be in. I get it.
Or when they smiled for the photographers while sporting those cool orange bandanas?
The pups weren't just there to charm the crowd (although they clearly succeeded in doing that). They were there to promote pet adoption.
All four of the dogs — who were still living in a shelter — were rescued from streets and abandoned lots in Sao Paulo.
Their court-side cheer proves that there's always hope for rescue animals — even after they've been mistreated by previous owners — Marli Scaramella, the event's organizer, told The Associated Press. "The idea is to show people that a well-fed and well-treated animal can be very happy."
"We want to show that abandoned dogs can be adopted and trained," Andrea Beckert, a trainer from the Association of Animal Wellbeing, told CNN. "After all, it's not easy to get a dog to only pick up the lost balls, and then to give them up!"
It's a message those of us in the U.S. should hear, too, because there are plenty of dogs (and cats) that need some TLC.
According to the ASPCA, about 7.6 million companion animals go into shelters around the country each year, with slightly more than half being dogs (cats make up the bulk of the remaining animals).
Unfortunately, 2.7 million animals are euthanized each year because not enough homes are looking to adopt. This figure would be drastically lower (or could possibly even hit zero) if new pet owners opted to welcome a rescue into their home as opposed to going to pet stores, which are notorious for sourcing their animals from as many as 10,000 puppy mills across the U.S.
Can you imagine all the lives that would be saved?
These stats, of course, don't account for the millions of strays that live on the streets and outside of the shelter system.
If Frida, Mel, Isabelle, and Costela made an impression on you, I'd say you're a great candidate for adopting a pet, if you haven't already.
If you're looking for a furry friend to join your fam, you can find a shelter near you today.