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Tag: dog run

A dog park for the dogs of the homeless

A Seattle-area church that offers its parking lot and other facilities to homeless women has added a mini-dog park — so the dogs belonging to those women can romp off leash.

Volunteers with the non-profit group Fences for Fido put up the fencing Saturday at Kirkland’s Lake Washington United Methodist Church, KING5 reported.

The church runs a “Safe Parking” program, and 40-50 women and families a night sleep there in their cars.

The women, after registering with the program and getting a background check, can use the church’s kitchen, bathrooms and Wi-Fi, and if temperatures outside get below freezing the women can sleep inside on the church’s pews.

They also have access to food and toiletries donated by church members, community resource information and counseling services.

“We recognize that people who are homeless and have a vehicle face challenges in where to park their car without fear of tickets or harassment,” the church explains on its website.

“We also recognize that homelessness can be isolating and the benefits of community and relationships can be life-transforming. We at Lake Washington United Methodist Church offer our parking lot to guests as a safe place to park, sleep in their cars, and become part of our church community.”

Now the church has recognized that many of those homeless women also have dogs, which can often be a reason they haven’t found space in shelters.

The fenced-in dog run was constructed by Fences for Fido, a Portland-based non-profit that provides dog houses, spay-neuter services, veterinary care and fencing to families whose dogs are chained or tethered.

“The fact that the church has stepped up and is utilizing their facilities to help these women makes it even more important that we step up and help them keep their pets because their pets are their family and their friends,” said Michele Coppola, a member of the group.

One of the safe parkers, who identified herself as Cheryl, lives in her VW Jetta car with her dog, Shiloh. Her own health issues make it hard for her to see that Shiloh gets enough exercise.

She said it was a “huge deal … to be able to get her out of the back seat, to have her be able to romp and play and run free for a while.”

Eggs-acting revenge on barking dogs

novodogrunAn angry tenant in a luxury condominium that backs up to the Park Slope dog run in New York’s Washington Park has been hurling eggs at dogs and owners who use the run at night, according to the New York Post.

“Before I knew it — ‘whack’ on my shoulder and ‘splat’ on the ground,” said Ilene Cohen, 55, who was hit by an egg three weeks ago. “I looked up, but I didn’t see anybody.”

Cohen said her black Labrador, Ace, wasn’t making any noise, but other dogs were barking at the time.

Kimberly Maier, the executive director of the Old Stone House, a historic center inside the park, said Cohen’s egging was the second of three aerial assaults, which were first reported by the website Brownstoner.com.

“It’s not a group of people doing it. It’s probably one person,” Maier said.

The condominium board has notified the local police precinct about the incidents, Maier said.

The 12-story luxury building known as Novo 343 opened less than two years ago — about the same time the dog run did.

Brownstoner.com reported a first incident in beginning of December, as well as a second incident last week.

(Photo: Brownstoner.com)

The art, and heart, of the dog park

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There’s a beautiful story in today’s New York Times that should resonate with dog park frequenters everywhere.

We wrack our brains to remember the names of dogs we’ve met before, then wrack them even harder to try and remember the name of the owner, and once in a while we stumble, calling the owner by the dog’s name, or vice versa.

Dick Sebastian resolved he would not make those kind of mistakes at the small-dog run in New York City’s Washington Square Park after he became a regular there a few years ago, along with his wife Susie, and his dog, Kitty.

After a visit, Sebastian, 71 and a retired surgeon, would return home, draw illustrations of the dog’s he had met and label them with their names. Later, he started bringing his chart with him to the dog run, where new dog owners started asking if he’d include their dogs on his ever-expanding artwork.

That led to Sebastian attempting less cartoony, more serious portraiture, sketching some of the dogs he had come to know. He started with a pug named Sidney, and in less than a year, he had drawn and presented, as gifts, 50 dog portraits to their owners.

The dog park crowd appreciated Sebastian’s efforts. Said one, “The fact that someone would care enough that he’d want to draw what’s unique about your dog for you …”

Sebastian was appreciated as well for his kindness, and his interest not just in other people’s dogs, but the people themselves.

He’d become a fixture, but now he’s leaving.  Sebastian and his wife plan to move back to their native Ohio this month, so that Sebastian, who has Parkinson’s disease, can get easy access to care at a retirement home.

Times reporter Susan Dominus writes:

“New York is full of ad-hoc communities based on proximity and built up around mutual affection — walk into any watering hole at 7:30 p.m. — but they often have a live-and-let-live looseness to them. While parental oversight can stifle, en loco parentis oversight can be a rare, welcome comfort in the circles of urban life,”

 “For passionate dog people, the folks at the Washington Square Park dog run are also, it turns out, passionate people people, and there have been myriad parties scheduled in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Sebastian before they depart.”

It’s not the first time I’ve said it, and I’m not the first one to say it, but dogs — if they don’t just automatically make us better humans — certainly manage to open up the opportunities for us to be.

Dick Sebastian, it seems, recognized that — most artfully.

(Artwork: The small dogs of Washington Square Park, by Dick Sebastian)

Inseparable: Nikkie and Natt

Natt Nevins was a fixture among the doggie crowd of Greenwich Village, where she was rarely seen without Nikkie, her 15-year-old dachsund, at her side.

When Nikkie was diagnosed with cancer last month, Nevins told some of her many dog park friends that she couldn’t imagine life without her dog.

Last week Nevins, 74, died — just a few days after suffering a massive stroke.

Nikkie died the next day.

Dozens of friends – including an army of dachshunds, Shih Tzu’s, Chihuahuas and other small dogs –  gathered at Nevins’ West Village apartment Thursday night to memorialize the well-loved duo, the New York Daily News reported.

Nevins rescued the long-haired dachshund when he was 1, after he’d been surrendered by a family with kids that burned him and tied cans to his legs.

Nevins was a regular at the Washington Square Park dog run, where she could often be found dispensing advice.  She regularly cared for neighborhood dogs while their guardians were at work.

Nevins was much more than a dog nanny, though. A former singer and entertainer, she spent 3-1/2 years in the U.S. Air Force performing for troops during the Korean War. She worked, until retirement, as a gerontologist, was a founding member of Senior Action in a Gay Environment (SAGE), and the first woman on the board of directors of The Hetrick-Martin Institute, which provides safe havens for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered youth.