Thursday, May 3, 2018

#holyroodbenchproject update #4 -- one year later

Shadow-dog and I have discovered a couple more #holyroodbenchproject spots during our neighbourhood walks. The carpenters at SEESA have made and sold 80 benches beyond the 20 they built for the original project, so people who like the idea of a neighbourly bench have been able to buy and set out their own, and not just in Holyrood. A neighbour I spoke with yesterday said that she saw a painted bench on the north side of the city, so word of this brilliant idea has gotten around.

It's a wonderful thing when neighbours offer hospitality to neighbours by providing a spot to sit, especially in neighbourhoods with seniors who like to take walks. I was delighted to see that the First Church of God recently put out a bench... churches are definitely places that attract seniors!

My new favourite bench has a bit of a story that goes with it. It's situated on the boulevard where the "Dog Lady" lived. She was known to a lot of dogs and their owners who ambled past her home on 95th Avenue.

Jane's love for meeting neighbourhood canines was such that, on the corner of her lawn, she put out a few rocks inscribed with permanent ink: "Doggie Rest Stop, "Paws" for a Drink." There was also a little airtight container marked "Two Treats per Tail, love Grandma" filled with dog snacks, as well as a dutch oven pot filled with ice water (she must have taken the pot in every night, refilled it and set it in her freezer in order to supply passing pooches with water that was cold all day long).

I remember the Dog Lady's delight at meeting Shadow on one of his first walks around the neighbourhood as a puppy five years ago. If she was outside and we happened to walk by, she always greeted him by name, and though I'm sure we humans probably introduced ourselves at some point, to me, she was always the Dog Lady, and to her, I was Shadow's Mom. Shadow definitely knew the doggie corner of her yard and went straight to it without fail, hoping that we would give him a treat, which we often did.

Last spring we noticed that the "Two Treats per Tail" container had disappeared, though the pot of water still made its appearance. But it wasn't replenished as often, and eventually filled with brackish water and rain. We wondered if the Dog Lady had gone on holidays. Finally, the watering spot for dogs disappeared completely, and we wondered if Jane was okay.

When this bench appeared this Spring, I asked a few of her nearer neighbours about it, and one of them told me that Jane had died. Apparently, her children were the ones who designed and painted the bench, and they put it out in her honour just a few weeks ago. The stones are gone from the corner, and the house is shuttered, likely awaiting a new occupant.

It's always sad for a neighbourhood to lose kind people like Jane. She never asked for anything in return for her kindnesses, but simply enjoyed connecting with her community through her love for dogs. Thanks to this wonderful bench, built by SEESA carpenters and decorated by her children, her legacy as the neighbourhood Dog Lady will last for years to come.

Thanks, Jane, for your consideration for our pets. May you meet all sorts of four-legged friends on the other side...

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For more about the #holyroodbenchproject:

The #holyroodbenchproject
The #holyroodbenchproject -- an update
#holyroodbenchproject update #2 -- special edition
#holyroodbenchproject update #3 -- two blue benches

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