Some people know him as Frankie.
Others call him Deacon.
Still others call him Buddy, or Scruffy.
By any name, the stray dog that roams the grounds of the Wake Forest tennis complex is as much a part of the Winston-Salem Open family as any player, tournament official, sponsor or volunteer.
Construction workers who are building the tennis complex, secretaries from the Indoor Tennis Center, workers at Wake Forest’s Clinical Research Center for Health and Exercise Science, cooks from the Deacon Tower Grille and those working directly with the tournament have all taken a liking to the dog and kept him well-fed for the past several months.
Mention the dog to anyone at the complex and you get an immediate smile.
"It’s fun having him around," tournament director Bill Oakes said. "It’s kinda neat, when I started in February, you couldn’t get within 50 feet of this dog. Now, he lets people pet him, he eats out of their hand, he really is a lot friendlier to everyone that is working, and it’s kinda nice to see him walking around.
"At one point so many folks were so concerned about the dog. They were like, ‘Oh, we need to feed it.’ Let me tell you, that dog gets fed very well. Its biggest issue is that it is dirty."
Carrie Moore, who often fed Frankie when she worked at the Clinical Research Center for Health and Exercise Science, has become known as "Crazy Dog Lady" for her tender loving care.
"He’s so cute," Moore said. "He’s kind of a bitsy type dog. He looks a little rough around the edges and you feel so sorry for him. And he is kinda protective, too, like it’s his turf and he likes being out there. He just looks like he needs love ... and a bath. I think he could be a good dog."
Memories of when Frankie first started showing up vary, but for sure he was known to be roaming the grounds east of BB&T Stadium and northwest of the baseball stadium last fall. That’s well before construction began on the tennis complex in February.
Nobody’s quite sure where Frankie came from.
"The rumor is that an elderly lady took the dog to the Joel Coliseum Annex to get vaccinated and the dog ran off," Oakes said.
Early on, when he was especially afraid of people, he would thwart any attempts to catch him by speeding away.
"When I first saw him, I thought, ‘Oh, I want to take him home,’ and I thought it would be a piece of cake to catch him," Moore said. "I made multiple attempts to catch him, not knowing that everyone else was trying to catch the dog, too. Eventually I got him to eat from my hands, but the second you tried to make any other move, he would run away.
"The construction workers put a trap out at one point, and they still couldn’t catch him. He’s smart. He’s been too smart for us."
Clearly, Frankie’s personality has changed over time, and now, as Oakes said, he is even willing to let folks pet him.
The good news is, he can wander around the construction site without causing problems. He’ll get a little too close to a bulldozer every now and then, but so far there have been no accidents.
"Everybody is keeping an eye out for him," Oakes said. "No close calls yet. Nobody is concerned about him doing anything wrong. Everybody loves having the dog around, so they keep an eye out for him. They thought they would have him captured about a month ago, but he’s done so well that they’ve let him hang out."
Unfortunately, fans coming to the Winston-Salem Open next month won’t get to see Frankie.
He’ll be gone by then.
Gone to the country, that is.
"He’s going to be adopted," Oakes said. "There have been a number of folks who have requested to adopt him. There’s one guy who has befriended the dog who owns a large piece of property outside of town with a lot of space for the dog to run around. So that’s my guess as to where the dog will end up. But the dog has been very well taken care of.."