Meet My Road Dog: Stitch

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Gio Gonzalez, Pitcher / Washington Nationals - The Players' Tribune

Dogs: they’re the coolest. They’re loyal. They love naps. They’re secretly the best teammates in sports. So we asked some of our favorite athletes to describe what they love about their dog. Next up is Washington Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez and his French bulldog, Stitch.

What is Stitch’s favorite thing to do?
Sleeping, by far. Besides sleeping? He loves going for drives in the car. But that’s because he usually jumps into the car and falls asleep right away. It’s like having a small child because the car puts him right to sleep. When he’s not napping in the car, he likes to surf on the middle console.

If he were an athlete, what position would he play?
Stitch reminds me of a catcher. He likes to be the man of his area, like a catcher defending the plate. He’s not terribly slow but he’s certainly not fast. He’s got the stocky body of a typical catcher.

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Does he have a pre-game routine?
It’s similar to mine: Stitch is happy just lying on the couch, relaxing and watching TV. He’s usually eating something.

Does Stitch have any bad habits?
He can be a needy pup. If I close the bedroom door at night, he’ll scratch at the door — literally for the entire night until you let him in or let him go outside. He also likes to be chased. He’s one of those dogs that will run right out the door when you try to put a leash on him. He’ll dodge you. He’s got moves. Eventually he’ll get tired and give up, but in his mind he believes he still won the “game.”

Good habits?
He’s an expert traveler. His secret weapon is being calm and cool on the road. That comes in handy with all the traveling he does to come to my games. Five hours on a plane? Not a word from Stitch. Airport security? Stitch rolls through like a champ, never barking. But I’ve learned one lesson about traveling with Stitch: Don’t feed him a lot before a long flight. He’s been known to sneak a few out on the plane … if you know what I mean.

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Do any of your teammates have dogs?
Actually, we’ve got a lot of dogs on the team. We’re a very dog-friendly team. We’ve got Aaron Barrett’s dog, Trigger. There’s Magnus, which is Jayson Werth’s dog. Bentley is Strasburg’s dog. There’s Zoey, Drew Storen’s dog. And that’s not even all of the dog owners on the team.

Does Stitch get along well with kids?
He loves kids but he’s friendly to everyone. He gets approached on a daily basis by tons of people. Some of my teammates say that he’s a bigger celebrity than most athletes we know. A lot of people compliment him on how cute he is, but that just makes his head bigger.

Where are his favorite places to go in DC?
We’ve got our walking routine — mostly to the local park and around Georgetown. Some of our favorites places to go are the restaurants on the Georgetown Waterfront. He loves going to restaurants because people give him lots of attention and he gets free food. The servers will give him pasta, chicken or whatever he’s in the mood for. They let Stitch sit outside and they even bring him his own bowl. I mean: he will eat anything. I have to be careful not to overload him on junk food. I told this to my fiancée recently: If I died and came back to life, I would want to be Stitch for a day. I mean, maybe not only for a day … but I’d love to be Stitch, period.

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What’s the weirdest thing no one knows about Stitch?
He likes to pee on my suitcase. I kid you not. He peed on my suitcase this morning. He does it a lot. Any time I’m about to travel, he’ll just hop up on my suitcase and mark his territory. Maybe it’s an “I’m the man of the house” mentality, or just his way of telling me he’s ready to go on a trip. I don’t know, but I’m trying to put my foot down and let him know it’s not okay. He’s got to know who the big dog is.

What are your words of wisdom for being a good dog owner?
Cherish the time with your dog. Since I travel so much, I can’t always bring him with me. I wish I had more time with Stitch. Now that it’s the offseason, Stitch and I are getting a lot more couch time in.