Ball dogs back at Brazil Open tennis tournament

    Story highlights

    • Six dogs will be used to fetch balls on two days of the tournament
    • The dogs were all abandoned
    • Last year four dogs were used and they were all adopted

    (CNN)A hit last year, ball dogs are back at a tennis tournament in Sao Paulo.

    Four dogs from local shelters were showcased 12 months ago during the clay-court tournament in Brazil's largest city -- and all four were eventually adopted.
      It was a barking good idea, then.
      This time around, six canines ranging in age from four to 10 -- Cindy, Nanda, Pretinha, Mia, Arlete and Ovelha -- will be fetching balls during the warmups on the semifinal and final days, March 4-5.
      "They are dogs that have had a difficult trajectory, yes, but what we want to point out is not the history suffered from the past, but to prove that no matter what they have gone through, they can be great companions today and in the future!" Madalena Spinazzola, from pet-food maker PremieR Pet -- organizing the initiative with the tournament -- told the Brazil Open's website.

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      Uruguay's Pablo Cuevas is the two-time defending champion at the clay-court tournament, while nine-time French Open winner Rafael Nadal has also twice been a victor there.