Although Crystal Dunn, her coop of chickens, and her three cats may disagree, the dogs of the NWSL have taken the league by storm this offseason. Some current and former NWSL athletes such as Abby Dahlkemper and Vanessa DiBernardo are long time dog moms. Rose Lavelle’s best friend Wilma Jean Wrinkles became an online sensation around the 2019 World Cup. However, the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated dog adoption and increased overall canine presence on social media.
At the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, Lindsey Horan became the mom to a French bulldog puppy named Ferguson. Ferguson became an immediate fan-favorite with his own social media account at a time when the world was forced indoors with minimal activity. Since then, several other NWSL athletes have adopted dogs, and those who were already proud dog moms began to increase their online presence. Teams embraced this trend, with the Houston Dash using the “Dash Dogs” as part of their preseason marketing campaign. Behind the scenes, the rise of dogs indicates a stronger team investment into NWSL athletes. Most players live in team-provided housing. With team owners as landlords, this indicates that landlords support the positive benefits including mental health over the potential downsides of allowing animals in housing. The rise of dogs in the NWSL has yet to peak as fans embrace the cute content overload.
By Tim Antoniewicz