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Friday, March 27, 2009

Doggone it, that pet is cute

By William Kaempffer
New Haven Register Staff
NEW HAVEN — Think your dog, cat or goldfish is pin-up material?
If so, now’s your chance to see if Fido or Felicia has what it takes to appear in the East Rock neighborhood’s upcoming pet calendar, which will raise money to help the community fund the training of the Police Department’s two new narcotics sniffing dogs.
The contest is sponsored by the SoHu — that’s stands for South of Humphrey Street — Block Watch Association and is the brainchild of Lisa Siedlarz, the block watch president and Pearl Street resident.
"I made calendars of my own dogs," explained Siedlarz, noting that she would dress them in seasonal and holiday outfits. She said she thought a community calendar might be a good way to raise money for the police dogs, which has become a pet project for the group.
A February fundraiser at Christopher Martin’s restaurant on State Street raised $1,800. The Police Department this month received a $5,000 grant from Milk-Bone for the dogs.
Organizers Saturday will hold a "pet social and photo shoot" from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Cassidy’s Pampered Paws, 832 State St. People can bring their pets to socialize with each other and Nia and Orvis, the narcotics dogs. For $10, pet owners can get a picture taken of their pet to be entered in the calendar contest. People also can submit their own pet photos to lisa@sohunewhaven.org.
Then, sometime next month, there will be a three-day public judging — where people can cast their picks for $1 a vote.
Since it was created in 2007, SoHu has been one of the more active block watches in the city. Last summer, in a neighborhood beautification project, the group planted 44 trees on Pearl, Pleasant and Clark streets. Pearl Street resident Kevin Howe, who grew up in the neighborhood and now donates his well-appointed four-bay garage for meetings, credited that with galvanizing the area.
"One aspect of the tree planting is got people to come out and meet people," said Howe, who first suggested the canine fundraiser as a "way to help East Rock and help New Haven."
The group currently has 204 members on its e-mail list. About 40 turn out for a typical block watch meeting.
As for Siedlarz, she plans to enter her own two dogs, Bucca and Kali, in the contest, but vowed not to use her influence to sway the vote. "I think they can very much win on their own merit," she said.

Editor's note: This story is reprinted here with the permission of the New Haven Register, which can be found at www.nhregister.com

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