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'Hungry dog' eats, vomits up treasured Masters tickets

By Greg Botelho, CNN
updated 6:31 AM EDT, Fri April 6, 2012
Seems like everybody, including a Swiss mountain dog named Sierra, is hungry for Masters tickets.
Seems like everybody, including a Swiss mountain dog named Sierra, is hungry for Masters tickets.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Russ Berkman says his dog ate four Masters tickets he'd gotten months ago
  • The dog threw up the tickets, and Berkman then pieced them together
  • Authorities at Augusta National heard his tale, allowed him to attend event
  • His dog is "happy ... and completely oblivious to the fact that she's famous"

(CNN) -- As Russ Berkman understood it, desperate times call for desperate measures.

And when your Swiss mountain dog gobbles up your Masters tickets, that means getting out the hydrogen peroxide and getting ready to sift through your canine's vomit.

That's the choice the Seattle resident made after a fit of panic when he realized Saturday night that his beloved canine Sierra had eaten his and his friends' four passes to the prestigious Augusta, Georgia, golf tournament.

Augusta beyond that exclusive golf club

"Laying on the hardwood floor was just the strings from (the tickets)" as he came in from a short trip outside, Berkman recalled. "I knew."

Gillespie: 'Golf has a problem'

With just a few hours to go before he boarded his 6 a.m. Sunday flight east, he called his girlfriend, who recommended he give Sierra some low-concentration hydrogen peroxide solution, which many recognize as a safe way to get a dog to vomit.

Thankfully, it was late in the day and Sierra hadn't eaten much recently. So when she threw up, the result was "not as bad as you'd think," Berkman said on Thursday.

Still, the tickets were far from whole and far from pristine. Berkman was able to cobble together the tickets into something resembling the four passes he'd received after the annual Masters ticket lottery in August.

So Berkman took off, holding the stitched together passes close to the vest. He also kept from his three buddies the news that his dog had eaten their perhaps once-in-a-lifetime chance to traverse the greens of Augusta National Golf Club.

The Masters by numbers

The foursome had been planning the trip for months, and Berkman said he didn't want to let his friends down (until, God forbid, he had no other choice).

So after a traveling day on Sunday, the friends played golf for 36 holes in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The fact Berkman kept darting away for surreptitious phone calls was perhaps the only clue that something was awry.

Equipped with what was left of the tickets, pictures of the originals and an e-mail verification of his purchase, he called Augusta's ticket office on Monday morning in hopes they'd be "gracious Southern folks" and let him and his friends attend the event.

"About 10 minutes later, they called back and asked if I was the one with the hungry dog," Berkman told HLN. "And I said, 'Indeed I am.'"

Two days later, he and his since-informed friends picked up their reprinted tickets and watched the final practice round for the Masters -- an experience Berkman described as "incredible," even after inclement weather shortened their stay.

Photos: Masters, Round 1

By Thursday, he was back home in Washington with Sierra healthy and happy by his side.

"She's just fine," Berkman said. "She's as happy as can be, and completely oblivious to the fact that she's famous."

HLN's Mike Brooks contributed to this report.

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