No dog ever had a better yard to play in than Drago.
Because as countless Boston Red Sox players and fans have seen over the past decade, Drago’s playground was Fenway Park.
Sniffing around the Green Monster, exploring the dugouts or simply resting on the mound before a match, Drago was a delight. And also valuable as a German Shepherd Dog service dog for Chief Constable Dave Mellor.
A week ago, shortly after walking on the field grass before the Red Sox hosted Oakland, Drago suffered a stroke. He died two days later at the age of 10.
“I was blessed to have him in my life as he saved my life, changed my life, inspired me and gave hope to my life in ways I hadn’t had in decades and didn’t know was possible,” texted me. to Mellor The Associated Press on Thursday.
“I am absolutely devastated,” he said.
On Friday night, before a game against St. Louis, the Red Sox recognized Drago on the video board and a tribute was read over the public address system.
“Friends, in Fenway Park’s 110-year history, so many have roamed the diamond and given us memories to last a lifetime. But perhaps no one has given more love and comfort than our chief constable’s four-legged companion, Dave Mellor,” came the salute.
“Last night we learned that this constant presence and much-loved figure on the fringes has been put to rest for nearly a decade,” it said. “We send love and support to his family, honor his service and recognize a life well lived. We will miss you, Drago.”
Mellor has been tending Fenway’s lawn since 2001 and met Drago in 2014.
Drago was always near Mellor’s side, on and off the field. Mellor was hit by cars twice in his life, requiring dozens of surgeries, and Drago helped him cope with the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.
A few days before the Red Sox played the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2018 World Series, Drago romp around the grass of Fenway Park with one of his sons, puppy Bronco – owned by then-Boston pitcher Rick Porcello.
Bronco belonged to a litter of five born that summer to Lisle, another of Mellor’s dogs. Then-Red Sox infielder Ian Kinsler also adopted a littermate.
“You see Dave with Drago out there on the field, you can tell he’s a special dog,” Kinsler said a day before the Series.
Many Red Sox fans, aware of the team’s history, often wondered if Mellor’s dog was named after former Boston pitcher Dick Drago.
That would be nice, Mellor would say, but not exactly.
“He was born in Slovakia,” Mellor once explained. “They told us that his name means ‘precious’ in Slovak.”
Mellor is surrounded by dog lovers. Several years ago, his wife and family attended the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden in New York City and spent an hour in the backstage.
Mellor said that one of Drago’s sons, Keeper, will become his service dog after completing his training.
In recognition of Drago, Mellor asked people to give “extra love” to their dogs and consider a donation in the name of his prized pet to Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston or the Home Base Program at Massachusetts General Hospital.
“We are overwhelmed by the powerful and beautiful tribute to Drago. He has touched the lives of so many people,” Mellor said.
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