Skip to main content

'Hungry dog' eats, vomits up treasured Masters tickets

By Greg Botelho, CNN
April 6, 2012 -- Updated 1031 GMT (1831 HKT)
Seems like everybody, including a Swiss mountain dog named Sierra, is hungry for Masters tickets.
Seems like everybody, including a Swiss mountain dog named Sierra, is hungry for Masters tickets.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Russ Berkman says his dog ate four Masters tickets he'd gotten months ago
  • The dog threw up the tickets, and Berkman then pieced them together
  • Authorities at Augusta National heard his tale, allowed him to attend event
  • His dog is "happy ... and completely oblivious to the fact that she's famous"

(CNN) -- As Russ Berkman understood it, desperate times call for desperate measures.

And when your Swiss mountain dog gobbles up your Masters tickets, that means getting out the hydrogen peroxide and getting ready to sift through your canine's vomit.

That's the choice the Seattle resident made after a fit of panic when he realized Saturday night that his beloved canine Sierra had eaten his and his friends' four passes to the prestigious Augusta, Georgia, golf tournament.

Augusta beyond that exclusive golf club

"Laying on the hardwood floor was just the strings from (the tickets)" as he came in from a short trip outside, Berkman recalled. "I knew."

Gillespie: 'Golf has a problem'

With just a few hours to go before he boarded his 6 a.m. Sunday flight east, he called his girlfriend, who recommended he give Sierra some low-concentration hydrogen peroxide solution, which many recognize as a safe way to get a dog to vomit.

Thankfully, it was late in the day and Sierra hadn't eaten much recently. So when she threw up, the result was "not as bad as you'd think," Berkman said on Thursday.

Still, the tickets were far from whole and far from pristine. Berkman was able to cobble together the tickets into something resembling the four passes he'd received after the annual Masters ticket lottery in August.

So Berkman took off, holding the stitched together passes close to the vest. He also kept from his three buddies the news that his dog had eaten their perhaps once-in-a-lifetime chance to traverse the greens of Augusta National Golf Club.

The Masters by numbers

The foursome had been planning the trip for months, and Berkman said he didn't want to let his friends down (until, God forbid, he had no other choice).

So after a traveling day on Sunday, the friends played golf for 36 holes in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The fact Berkman kept darting away for surreptitious phone calls was perhaps the only clue that something was awry.

Equipped with what was left of the tickets, pictures of the originals and an e-mail verification of his purchase, he called Augusta's ticket office on Monday morning in hopes they'd be "gracious Southern folks" and let him and his friends attend the event.

"About 10 minutes later, they called back and asked if I was the one with the hungry dog," Berkman told HLN. "And I said, 'Indeed I am.'"

Two days later, he and his since-informed friends picked up their reprinted tickets and watched the final practice round for the Masters -- an experience Berkman described as "incredible," even after inclement weather shortened their stay.

Photos: Masters, Round 1

By Thursday, he was back home in Washington with Sierra healthy and happy by his side.

"She's just fine," Berkman said. "She's as happy as can be, and completely oblivious to the fact that she's famous."

HLN's Mike Brooks contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1754 GMT (0154 HKT)
When someone tells you to go jump in a lake, sometimes it's best to take their advice. "I've never been so scared," says golfer Pablo Larrazabal.
Bubba Watson is the Masters king, but can he win a major away from Augusta? Living Golf's Shane O'Donoghue has the lowdown.
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1412 GMT (2212 HKT)
Arnold Palmer
Arnold Palmer won his first major at Augusta, played there with the U.S. President and made a record 50 consecutive Masters appearances.
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 1202 GMT (2002 HKT)
He is remembered for designing one of the world's most famous golf courses, but the man behind Augusta died pleading to be paid.
April 9, 2014 -- Updated 1426 GMT (2226 HKT)
Will Phil Mickelson win a fourth green jacket? Can Europe end its long Masters wait? Or will Adam Scott emulate the absent Tiger Woods?
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 1004 GMT (1804 HKT)
Take a trip around Augusta. From Eisenhower's toppled tree to the fiendishly-difficult Amen Corner, the Masters' home venue has it all.
April 8, 2014 -- Updated 1204 GMT (2004 HKT)
He's been mistaken for Tiger Woods' ball-boy, but that won't be the case when amateur star Matt Fitzpatrick tees off at the Masters.
April 4, 2014 -- Updated 1228 GMT (2028 HKT)
2012 Masters Champion Bubba Watson shows us how to hit the long ball.
April 3, 2014 -- Updated 1827 GMT (0227 HKT)
CNN's Shane O'Donoghue meets Billy Payne -- the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club.
April 3, 2014 -- Updated 1739 GMT (0139 HKT)
Shane O'Donoghue meets Ben Crenshaw who won his first of two Masters thirty years ago this month.
March 27, 2014 -- Updated 1300 GMT (2100 HKT)
They carry a bag for a living but these men can bring home six-figure incomes. Welcome to the world of a caddy.
CNN's Alex Thomas welcomes golf opening itself up to women, but questions the motives behind the decision.
ADVERTISEMENT