Dallas Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks assistant athletic trainer Heather Mau has noticed a trend of players grabbing extra breakfast. It's not that their appetite has grown, but they need the extra food to lure in their favorite coworker.  

Bailey, a two-year old mini Bernedoodle, is the team's emotional support animal -- the only one known to exist among NBA teams. She was "hired" in April of 2022 for a job that requires her to be her adorable self and get spoiled by professional basketball players. 

While Mau is proud to say the Mavericks are the first NBA team to do this, she hopes to inspire other organizations to get emotional support animals. She said that even with the team's busy schedule, having Bailey has added a lot of benefits.

"We are trying to be progressive when it comes to that as an organization," Mau said. "Being the first to have an emotional support animal, and really putting our mental health -- players, staff and coaches' mental health -- in the forefront and the focus on what we do."

Naturally, of course, the team loves to spoil her. 

"Dwight Powell, Tim Hardaway, Josh Green and Maxi Kleber are usually the ones that fall victim in that category," Mau told CBS Sports. "But there are a few staff members who spoil her even more than the players."

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Bailey (@dallasmavsbailey) • Instagram photos and videos

Head coach Jason Kidd and other Mavericks higher-ups approved the decision to get Bailey, and Mau couldn't volunteer fast enough to take care of her full-time. 

"I like to say I quite frankly tricked everybody here to get me a dog," Mau joked. "She is awesome. She brings a lot of light not only into my life but a lot of light into the building."

Mau is Bailey's mom and the players are her "uncles." The cuddly staffer has a busy schedule because she attends all practices, home games, shoot arounds and treatments with Mau. Fortunately, she gets plenty of treats to help her maintain her energy.

"This dog is too smart sometimes," Mau said. "She doesn't like to eat all her breakfast at home before we leave for work because she knows she is going to go to work and have more breakfast."

Players do not apologize for such behavior.

Bailey interacting with one of her many "uncles" Dallas Mavericks

"Do I feed Bailey too much? I don't think so," Green told The Dallas Morning News. "She does a lot for the team. She's one of our teammates. She's always there for me, so I bring extra breakfast every morning."

Sure, Bailey sometimes gets the zoomies and runs around the entire facility going "absolutely bananas." And, yes, she occasionally forgets she is not supposed to play with her mom's equipment, but she brings a lot of joy to everyone in the organization. 

"That's what Bailey brings, something different but also happiness," Kidd told WFAA.

She stays at home for road games but still shares her support for her uncles on her Instagram account, which her mom finally let her get in December. 

Bailey gets lots of cuddles from the team, an endless amount of kisses, and Powell has gone as far as wearing matching outfits with her. In December, she had a birthday party and her favorite uncles did not miss out. 

The San Francisco 49ers appeaer to be the only other professional sports organization doing something similar. They have Zoe, an adorable French bulldog who has captured the hearts of the entire roster. She had a brother, Rookie, but he passed away last year. Zoe belongs to the team's director of player engagement, but others in the organization also help take care of her.

Her instagram is filled with photos with her teammates proudly posing with her. 

Bailey and Zoe don't just make workdays more fun, mental health professionals agree that animals have real mood-boosting benefits.

Ed Chavez, mental performance clinician for the 49ers, thinks every team should consider adding a pet to their roster. 

"I'm a huge advocate for having therapy dogs. Studies have shown that they reduce stress, anxiety and depression," Chavez said. "Having them around is so beneficial to our mental health. When interacting with dogs, it lowers stress hormones and it releases calming and feeling good biochemicals in the brain. They generally make us feel better."