Brooklyn’s DIY (do-it-yourself) ethos is typically applied to furniture- and pickle-making, screened t-shirts, and vintage clothes rehab. But here in Bed-Stuy, inaction from the parks department has led to a DIY approach to the maintenance of the dog run at Herbert Von King Park.
Naturally, that has both its upsides and its downsides: Some residents think there is more that the city should be doing for our four-legged friends.
Located on the northwest corner of the park, at the intersection of Lafayette and Marcy, the dog run is tucked between the park’s baseball diamond and the street. It’s about the same size as a community garden, and has a similarly scrappy appearance; it’s dusty, and the only obstacles for the dogs to play on are two semi-sunken logs.
There is a sort of throne carved out of a large tree stump, and the area is hemmed in by nothing more than a fence made of metal posts and something about two steps in quality above chicken wire.
On Saturday, Paulina Subocz, a Bed-Stuy resident and professional dog-walker who frequently uses the Von King dog run, brought a bucket full of another thing she felt the dog run lacked: toys.
As she hung the toy bucket on the fence, full of brand-new tennis balls and other home-made chew toys, she explained her grievances with the way the dog run is treated by the parks department.
For one, the dust gets to both Paulina and the dogs. “I don’t like the fact that they’re really skimping on wood chips here. They used to bring wood chips every few months, but as you can see there are no extra wood chips,” she said. “It’s very dusty here,” she added, going on to say that “a lot of people just stopped coming here for the summer, because of the dust.”
In the winter, it’s a different story. When it gets dark very early, Paulina points out that they have no lighting. “Hopefully they’ll do something,” she said.
Jimmy, a sometimes client of Paulina’s, was also at the park walking his three-year-old chocolate lab-pitbull mix, Maynard, and echoed many of the things Paulina said about the disrepair of the dog run.
“It’s not really upkept at all,” he said. “The only people that I know that keep it up at all are people who live in the neighborhood. I mean I’ve seen park officials in the park, but nobody ever monitoring this area.”
Jimmy said that dog runs in areas like Park Slope and SoHo are better kept, in his experience. Earlier this spring he saw a dog escape the shoddy fencing at the Von King dog run and eventually get hit by a car on Marcy Avenue. After that incident, dog owners got together to make a second fence to prevent similar tragedies from happening again.
On the bright side, though, Jimmy pointed out that “This is the first time there’s been toys here,” referring to Paulina’s bucket. “So, yeah, I’m really excited.” Maynard, he said, was excited too.
A couple tried out one of the new toys -- a camouflage boomerang-shaped chew toy -- on their dachshund, Phillipe, but the dog ignored the boomerang in favor of an unimaginably filthy rubber ball. Dachshunds, it should be noted, are a notoriously stubborn breed.
Other dogs, like Elise’s mutt Brutus, were more thrilled to have the new toys. As Elise played fetch with Brutus using a new tennis ball from Paulina’s additions, she explained that she thought the dog run was great.
“I just moved here from Bushwick and we didn’t have a dog park, so this is better than nothing,” she said. Brutus, tail wagging, toy in mouth, seemed to agree.