On Friday, September 27, the office of Community Relations accidentally welcomed the Berger Park Advisory Council’s Doggy Day on campus. Residents who were aware of student-move in and family weekend intentionally came to campus to introduce their dogs to the new student neighbors.
Jill Donovon of the Berger Park Advisory Council was inspired by the students’ reaction to her own dog as she walked him in the neighborhood.
"Several years ago, my husband Rob and I were walking our previous dog, a gentle border collie named Bo, along the lakefront path on the Loyola Campus during freshman move-in. Student after student stopped us to ask if they could pet our dog, and, sometimes with a little catch in their throat, they would tell us about their dog back home, and how much they missed them," she said. "Clearly, it wasn't just their dog that they missed. Our new girl, Apple, continues this tradition, and it's been wonderful to do it with a group of dogs from the neighborhood."
During Welcome Week and Family Weekend, Donovon and fellow advisory council member David Perez, brought their friendly animals on campus for two hours and let them visit. Students and their parents seemed happy to see the dogs and asked when Loyola would do something like this again.
“Berger Park and Loyola have enjoyed a friendly and neighborly relationship for many years. Through student volunteerism, community-based service projects, North Lake Shore Earth Day and campus planning initiatives, we continue to seek ways to deepen our connections with our local parks,” said Summur Roberts, Director of Community Relations for the University.
With a dearth of dog-friendly play areas near campus and a large number of pet-owners in Edgewater and Rogers Park, the department of Community Relations is willing to seek ways to help bridge the gap. While Loyola’s campus cannot be considered a dog park by any means, the occasional well-behaved dog playing on campus is a welcome sight to students.
"Doggy Day was a great program; Loyola and Berger Park Advisory Council building a better community for everyone to live in and work in. I met a lot of students their family’s [who were] happy to be able to pet, play and hug the dogs that were in attendance. I hope to see more Loyola students and staff enjoying Berger Park and volunteering to help make the park a better experience for everyone,” said Perez.
Mary Miro, Community Relations Coordinator for Loyola, was surprised with the activity. "When I got to the scene, parents, students, faculty and staff were visiting with the dogs and our friendly neighbors. I didn’t want to stop the activity. People asked us to continue the program on a regular basis!"
The presence of the dogs was impromptu but it was a welcome treat. Loyola will be working with the Berger Park Advisory Council to ensure that future visits by the group are met with success.