Sports

Boise Hawks’ three-sport star happens to have four legs

Bat dog fetches better life in Boise

Cowboy Kohl is well known in the Treasure Valley as the bat dog for the Boise Hawks and the tee dog for BSU football. His past and training might not be so familiar.
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Cowboy Kohl is well known in the Treasure Valley as the bat dog for the Boise Hawks and the tee dog for BSU football. His past and training might not be so familiar.

There’s no shortage of good dogs, especially on the internet. Kohl, a 7-year-old black lab, is among Boise’s best.

Kohl, who will enter his second year as Boise State football’s official tee-retrieving dog, went viral last October when ESPN took a behind-the-scenes look at his on-field performance. CBS Sports wrote an article about it and tweets of Kohl’s exploits made the rounds.

Though he’s most well known for his prowess on the gridiron, Kohl is a three-sport athlete who shoots free throws at halftime of basketball games and is in his third year retrieving baseball bats for the Boise Hawks. Kohl, whose full name is Cowboy Kohl, is on the Hawks’ team poster and “signs” autographs with his paw print.

“Whenever we go to the field, you kind of get swarmed with love, and you can’t complain about that,” said Devin Martin, a trainer with Positive Pets in Meridian who works with Kohl.

Kohl isn’t alone in his canine celebrity status. The WeRatesDogs Twitter account rates user submissions of “good dogs” in various poses and has 2.52 million followers. There is a Reddit thread called “Who’s a Good Boy?” where users submit pictures of their dogs.

Dogs on baseball teams are increasingly popular, too.

The University of North Carolina baseball team’s therapy dog gained publicity last month after a story about his ability to help players recover from injuries.

Brooks, of the Frisco RoughRiders, became infamous after he knocked over a child rather than retrieve bats.

Jake, described as “the best darn dog in professional baseball,” gained publicity when a video of him carrying water to umpires during a Fort Wayne Tin Caps game circulated.

The energy Kohl creates at the Hawks’ Memorial Stadium is tangible. General Manager Bob Flannery said the team gets calls asking which days Kohl will be working.

“The ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ and the cheers that Kohl gets is phenomenal. He’s like part of our team,” Flannery said.

Kohl did not have the perfect upbringing. He had some training but lived in a somewhat abusive household, Martin said. He moved in with Britta Closson, his primary trainer and owner, when he was 3. That isn’t typically the age a dog begins serious training, which usually starts around six months, according to the Veterinary Centers of America.

But Kohl is a perfect example that every dog can be trained if it is treated with love and affection. Kohl is your typical, loving dog. He loves pleasing his trainers, getting his ears and belly scratched, frolicking in the grass and meeting new people.

Kohl also wants Hawks players to do their jobs well so he can do his.

“He’ll be barking (during games). We found out the reason is he’s getting impatient because he wants the bat,” Flannery said. “(I told players) he wants the bat, so make sure you put the ball in play.”

Michael Katz: 208-377-6444, @MichaelLKatz

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