Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Very First Rocky Run Clean-up Day

Karen and Bailea
The Rocky Run was originally a weedy overgrown piece of gone-to-seed parkland at the end of 165th St.--the domain of various unsavory persons, strewn with crack vials and other assorted drug paraphernalia. It was a bad area for anyone else to hang out in, and particularly children.

Then a group of community-minded dog owners saw the potential in it, and went through the endless lobbying, and organizing, and schmoozing, and community board meetings and fund-raising that are all necessary if you want to start a dog run in this city. But when all that was done, they still had to clear the land of brush and debris before the run could be built. This was the very first Rocky Run clean-up--the one before there was a Rocky Run.

A few clean-ups back, our devoted run manager Bailea loaned me these photos, with the understanding that I'd scan them for the blog. Only I didn't have a scanner, and the various ones I tried at first didn't get the job done, and then I broke my ankle and a lot of other stuff happened, and the photos were in my sock drawer for the better part of a year and a half. We've all been there, right? Finally they installed a new Canon flatbed scanner at my job, and the images still doesn't look as good as I'd like (did my best to crop them)--but good enough, and you can get a closer look by clicking on them. Bailea will be getting her photos back soon.

Some of these faces will be familiar--Norma and Felix, for example, and their wonderful Cheyenne, all of them still regulars. Michael Girault, who still pops by occasionally with his dog Cleo. Bailea is in here as well, of course--she's no longer living in the neighborhood, but we see her twice a year at clean-up, and she's always there behind the scenes.

And then there's Karen Argenti, one of the real movers and shakers behind the founding of the run, here as well (standing next to Bailea in the first photo)--the first time I've had the privilege to showcase her on this blog, since she moved to California long before Washington Tykes went online.

My knowledge about the early days is limited, to say the least. Yolanda and I didn't have Max when all this was happening. We just walked down Riverside one day, and hey--there's a dog run there! When did that happen? How cool! And a short time later, we were offered a chance to adopt a big energetic Shepherd Mix who had lost his first home, and needed an outlet for his energy--and a chance to socialize with his own kind, for the first time since he was a small puppy. And we remembered there was a dog run in our neighborhood now. And we decided to go for it. And we will be in the debt of the people in these photographs for as long as we live. And so will you. But of course, none of it would have happened without the dogs. Who were apparently just as delighted to supervise backbreaking human labor then as they have been at every subsequent clean-up day. Next one is May 21st. The tradition lives on.

Far as I know, the very first clean-up group shot. And here I was thinking I'd invented it. :)



1 comment:

le_henry said...

Hello! I am thrilled to find your blog and to discover the Rocky Run dog run. Finding out that a vibrant dog run/ dog run community is nearby is making the Ft. Washington Park neighborhood start to feel like it could be the right place for me to move. For the past seven years the 105th St. dog run in Riverside Park was practically my second home and I met people there who became some of my closest friends. Just recently my dog passed away and I am still grieving, but I am certain to be a dog owner again.

I appreciate the dedication and hard work of the founders of the Rocky Run and your telling of their story. There is much wisdom in your words about dog behavior and human intervention, or not, in dog conflict, or play, as it may be. Thank you!