March 23 03:14 PM

Tiger cubs?

Imlay City pet groomer, baseball enthusiasts show spirit for team

May 16, 2018
DETROIT — Detroit baseball fans were howling in support of the home team Monday, May 14, as the Tigers snarled and growled their way to a 6-3 win over the Cleveland Indians.

Helping the cause were more than 100 four-legged fans seated in the upper reaches of Comerica Park's 'Pepsi Corner' section.

The dogs and their owners were at the game for another of the Tigers' "Bark in the Park" promotional events. The event is available specifically for dog owners who purchase their tickets online before the game. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Michigan Humane Society.

Among those in attendance were Imlay City residents Kelly and Adam Villanueva, who were joined by their dogs, Gracie, a 5-year-old Pom/Maltese; and Penny, a 2-year-old Bichon/Poodle mix.

Kelly Villanueva said it was the second time the couple and their dogs participated in Bark in the Park.

"We were here last year and had such a good time, we wanted to come back," said Kelly, owner of Kelly's Pet Salon in Imlay City.

"I work with dogs all day long," she said. "But I rarely get a chance to do something with my own dogs. This was the opportunity to do that."

Adam and Kelly Villanueva and 'Gracie' and 'Penny' of Kelly's Pet Salon in Imlay City show their support at Monday's Tiger game.
Before leaving for the park on Monday, Kelly spent about three hours bathing, grooming and primping Gracie and Penny for their big night out.

The process also included applying orange and black—Tiger colors— vegetable-based dye to the animals' fur.

Having been specially trained and experienced in the process, Kelly pointed out that neither the dye nor the procedure is harmful to the animals.

Upon their arrival at the ball park, Comerica staff greeted the owners and dogs, before guiding them to their seats at the top of the Pepsi Porch.

In addition to providing free treats, a water station and water pool were available to the dogs.

"They do a great job," said Kelly. "They hand out a lot of treats for the dogs, and it's a lot of fun for everyone."

So much fun that Kelly and Adam hope to return for future 'Bark in the Park' events, including a couple scheduled later in the 2018 season.

"I think Adam likes this event even more than I do," she said. "He's such a big Detroit Tigers fan and likes to be here at any time.

"It's just so nice to be around people who are getting along and having a good time," said Kelly. "Everyone was neighborly and friendly with one another.

"And as dog owners, we all have something in common; we all love our dogs."

That commonality may have spilled over onto the field, where a young and unproven group of Tigers surprised a highly-regarded Indians team.

"I really think dogs bring out the best in people," Kelly opined.

Kelly's artistry with her precious pups drew lots of attention as well. The Villanuevas were featured on a number of Detroit-area television news stations with their decked out dogs.

Tom Wearing started at the Tri-City Times in 1989, covering the Village of Capac as a beat reporter. He later served stints as assistant editor and editor. Today, he covers Imlay City and Almont as a staff writer. He enjoys music and plays drums and sings with various musical groups in the Detroit Metropolitan area.
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