DON'T TRY telling tennis star Kim Clijsters that a dog is man's best friend. The Dutch tennis star (right) returned to the court last week, winning the Gaz de France title in Belgium on Sunday, after sitting out several days with a bruised tailbone suffered when she took a header over her Great Dane. "Very silly," she wrote on her blog. "While I was playing football at home with [boyfriend] Brian ... and the dogs, I tripped over Diesel—the biggest one—and fell badly." Clijsters is hardly the first jock to encounter some dog days. To wit:
2006: Smokey IX (left), Tennessee's bluetick coonhound mascot, clamps his jaws on the ankle of Alabama wide receiver Mike McCoy before a game in Knoxville. 'Bama claims blood was drawn; not so, says the dog's handler, Earl Hudson, who blames the victim. "He came down right on top of Smokey," said Hudson. "What dog worth his salt wouldn't defend himself." (Certainly not Smokey VII, a previous Tennessee mascot who was retired in 1994 after biting the same UT tuba player during consecutive games.)
2006: Australian cricket star Matt Hayden has his ankle chomped by a dog while jogging. "It was a vicious attack," he said. "You are always a bit shocked by that sort of thing, but I was more disappointed than anything."
1999: English soccer player Darren Barnard slips in a puddle his new puppy, Zak, left on the kitchen floor. The damage: a knee injury that keeps Barnard out of action for several weeks.
1998: The Yankees win the World Series—with the help of Veronica, a Jack Russell terrier owned by pitcher David Cone's mother. Veronica bit Cone on the index finger of his pitching hand in June, forcing him to miss a start. Orlando Hernandez was called up from the minors and was so impressive that he stayed in the rotation through the Series.
1996: Uga, Georgia's bulldog mascot, snaps at Robert Baker after the Auburn receiver catches a touchdown pass (left). Luckily for both parties, the dog misses. "If he'd bit me," said Baker, "I'd have bit him back."
1980s--90s: For years Schottzie 01 and Schottzie 02, the Saint Bernards owned by then Reds owner Marge Schott (right), terrorize players—mainly by leaving unwanted deposits all over the field. "One time Schottzie pooped out at shortstop before the game," says former Red Barry Larkin. "I'll be danged, the first inning I'm over here diving, and I see this poop right here in front of me. I had to dive right where Schottzie pooped. When I got up, I had it all on the side of my uniform. Good times."
YVES LOGGHE/AP (CLIJSTERS)
DAVID LIAM KYLE (SCHOTTZIE)
PATRICIA MILKLIK/MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER/AP (UGA)
FERNANDO MEDINA/WIREIMAGE.COM (SMOKEY)