From left, Tyson Strachan, Steve Oleksy and John Carlson. (Ben Sumner/The Washington Post)

The Nationals hosted a special guest on Sunday, as Capitals and Hershey Bears defenseman Tyson Strachan came to help spread the word of one of his off-the-ice passions.

Strachan Strays we just started as a charitable organization that wants to raise awareness and also raise finances to support local animal shelters,” Strachan said, after signing autographs. “There are millions of homeless pets across America and it’s something we feel passionate about, and we want to let people know the problems that are out there and try to help out any way we can.”

Strachan Strays partnered with Homeward Trails Animal Rescue – the folks behind the classic Caps dog calendar – and even brought along a couple surprise guests. U.S. Olympian John Carlson and Cap/Bear Steve Oleksy came out to show their support, signing autographs and posing for photos with fans.

Though they couldn’t bring any animals to the Nats Park, they have brought animals to games in Hershey. “It’s always a hit with people, they get to see some of the puppies,” Strachan said. “Two separate nights in Hershey they worked with a shelter and brought in a group of the dogs to promote adoption and show people that animals that are in shelters are great animals and need homes too.”

Oleksy, who doesn’t currently own a dog because of his travel schedule, is often seen by Strachan’s side at these events. “I’ve been lucky enough to work at a couple events with Tyson and that’s why I was excited to be a part of today,” he said. “In the past the events we’ve done – one of them was the photo shoot – you see how excited people get to be around the dogs and how excited the dogs are to be around people. The whole feeling and the mood changes. It was a great experience to be a part of those events and I’m happy to be a part of today’s event as well.”

Though it was Carlson’s first time working with Strachan Strays, he didn’t hesitate to help out on Sunday. “It’s obviously great what [Strachan] does, raising money and awareness. People love dogs and it’s an easy sell when they see their personalities. We’ve done some things for rescues and shelters around the area through our dog calendar this year.”

Carlson has a dog of his own, a goldendoodle named Ellie, while Strachan has two dogs – an Italian Massiff named Soder, and a mutt named Raja, who had previously been abused.

Just as important as it was to Strachan to spread the word of his cause, it also meant a lot to him for his teammates to show up. “They [Carlson and Oleksy] are great friends. They came to see a great baseball game and to support me and I’m very appreciative of that and we’ve got a great day at the park and we appreciate the Nationals for having us out today.”

Strachan was honored on the field for his charitible efforts before the Nats game. (Ben Sumner/The Washington Post)

See more photos at Caps Outsider.

Ben Sumner works in The Post’s IT department and writes for Capitals Outsider.