ARLINGTON, Va. -- Garnet Hathaway knew most of the attention he was getting at the Courage Caps Skating Party on Thursday wasn't about him.
That was because the Washington Capitals forward happened to be carrying the team's service dog trainee, Captain, while skating around MedStar Capitals Iceplex. The 15-week-old male Labrador retriever was the most popular guest at the event, which the Capitals hosted for about 100 children and adults from the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS).
TAPS supports families grieving the loss of a loved one who died while serving in the military or as a result of his or her service.
"He always steals the show," Hathaway said of Captain. "But he's so well-behaved, he's so well-trained, and he's going to be a great service dog."
Hathway was joined by forward T.J. Oshie and defenseman Nick Jensen, along with Captain, during the hour-long skate, which was followed by a pizza party.
"Obviously, TAPS does a great job," Oshie said. "A lot of these families have been through some pretty tough times, so it means a lot to us as players and as people just to come out here and try to put some smiles on the kids' faces and just really have a good time."
Oshie, Hathaway and Jensen posed for pictures, signed autographs and gave some skating tips to the children and a few of the adults. When he wasn't carrying around Captain, Hathaway took several children by the hand to guide them around the rink.
Oshie and Jensen did the same.
"It's just our opportunity to say, 'Thank you,'" Hathaway said. "We don't know what it's like to go through something like that, to lose a loved one protecting us and our freedoms. So for us, it's a special way to show our appreciation to try just for a second to say, 'Thank you,' and to maybe help them forget for a little bit."
Logan Oswell, 8, and his sister Morgan, 5, from Silver Spring, Maryland, each had a turn to skate with Hathaway and later posed for a photo with Oshie, who is their favorite Capitals player.
"It's amazing," their mother Kate Oswell said. "I was just thinking about it going around that it's really nice of these guys to come out here and give their time to these military families. It really says a lot that they've taken the time to come out here and do that."