Off the court, Washington Mystics team members are passionate about their canine companions.

By Courtney Eiland

Everyone says a dog is a man’s best friend, but in this case, a dog is a Mystics soul mate. Out of the 11 players on the Washington Mystics roster, eight players are dog owners and consider their dogs a pal for life.

Mystics guard Katie Smith has had her Golden Doodle, Logan, for six years now. Smith says she always had pets growing up but didn’t get her own dog until she turned 30. “I got him after the 2004 Olympics, so he and I have been hanging tight for the last six years,” Smith reveals. “I didn’t get one until late because life is a little hard, especially since I wanted a big dog. The traveling would have been tough. I waited awhile, but now it’s fun and he’s fun to have around.”

Logan, who was named partly because of Smith’s hometown of Logan, Ohio—and because Smith thinks it’s a cute boy’s name—weighs in at 80 pounds. During road games while Smith is away, she is able to find people to watch her dog until she returns. “I usually find people whether it’s interns or people that are in the city that I’ve played with that can watch him. Sometimes it’s the same people; sometimes it’s different. So, it just kind of depends. Usually whoever watches him falls in love with him, so it’s pretty easy.”

One challenge for players is that they spend a majority of the year overseas where they might not be able to bring their dogs with them. That is the case for Smith as well as Lindsey Harding, who has a six-year-old rescue dog, a black Labrador named Mikey. “My dog is 75 pounds, so I’m not putting him under a plane. He’d never forgive me,” Harding says. “When you’re overseas you’re not over there the whole time. You come back for breaks, so it’s not too bad.”

“My dog is 75 pounds, so I’m not putting him under a plane. He’d never forgive me,” Harding says.

Smith agrees: “Larger dogs are usually harder to travel with, and I don’t want to put him through that traveling and putting him underneath the plane or have him be quarantined—and who knows what else—because every country is a little different,” Smith says. “I’ve been lucky enough [in finding pet sitters]. Whether it’s my parents or [having] people stay at the house—either a college student or whoever—who can watch him. It makes life a little easier and makes him a little more comfortable as well.”

The Washington Mystics Basketball Team

The players of the Washington Mystics love and support their pups.

Harding and Smith take their dogs to the dog park together all the time. However, a trip with all eight dog owners on the team has yet to happen. “Katie and I have bigger dogs, but some of these little dogs that my teammates have do not like to interact with other dogs—so we really haven’t had a fun puppy day with all of us,” Harding reveals.

Mystics forward Nakia Sanford has had her Shih Tzu named Zoe for six years. Just like Smith, Sanford usually has a pet sitter or staff from the office watch her dog when she’s on the road. “People love keeping her and don’t mind watching her because she’s such a sweetie,” Sanford says. Sanford, however, does take her dog overseas with her. “I don’t think I could survive overseas without my dogs,” she admits.

Mystics forward Marissa Coleman has a Jack Russell Terrier named Boston that she has had for a year. While on the road, Coleman says most times her mom will watch Boston for her. “She hangs with grandma,” Coleman jokes. Coleman also takes her dog overseas with her, which is easy to do because of her size. Coleman admits that her dog is very active and needs a lot of attention.

“I don’t think I could survive overseas without my dogs,” she [Nakia Sanford] admits.

“I have a very energetic dog, so I have to walk her a lot. She gets into things if she doesn’t get the proper exercise,” Coleman says. “I feed her three times a day. Whenever I eat, she eats.”

Chastity Melvin (Redd), Matee Ajavon (Sleepy), Alana Beard (Chloe), and Monique Curried (Levi) are among the other Mystics players who are dog owners. Rookie guard Ashley Houts has a dog that stays at home in Georgia. Houts wasn’t ready to bring the dog up until she got settled in herself. Rookie forward Jacinta Monroe and third-year forward Crystal Langhorne do not own dogs. Langhorne admits that she loves dogs but can see that it is a lot of work. She says she will most likely get a dog when she is done playing basketball.

Owning a dog is a lot of hard work. It takes dedication to give a dog the attention, nutrition, and care that it needs on a daily basis. With having a demanding job that requires a lot of travel, sometimes separation from their dogs can be difficult for the players and their pups. The reunion is perhaps one of the best feelings after a long time away. “Whenever I get home, Logan is always happy to see me,” Smith says.

Read the full digital edition from Summer 2010.