‘A beautiful thing’: East Vancouver neighbourhood bands together to create community toy exchange for dogs

Click to play video: 'East Vancouver ‘library’ proving popular with dogs'
East Vancouver ‘library’ proving popular with dogs
WATCH: An East Vancouver neighbourhood is becoming a hot spot for dogs, thanks to a new attraction. As Christa Dao reports, a so-called dog library keeps pups happy while strengthening the bond between neighbours – Jan 30, 2023

There’s a ‘paw-pulour’ new attraction in an East Vancouver neighbourhood, catering especially to its four-legged residents.

The ‘Hastings-Sunrise Dog Library’ started out as a water dish for dogs but has since evolved into a volunteer-run mini pet store complete with a ‘stick library’ and a toy exchange.

Inspired by the Little Free Libraries and community fridges found speckled across the city, it’s filled with everything from toys and dog biscuits to collars and leashes. It also hosts pop up events.

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Vancouver joins grassroots movement for community fridges and pantries

Creator Jaqueline Ravel told Global News the idea initially started as a way to meet and connect with neighbours during the earlier waves of the pandemic.

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“I have three dogs and I love dogs and my dogs are one of the ways I have really connected and built relationships with people in the neighborhood over the past decade,” said Ravel, a self proclaimed ‘dog librarian.’

“Animals bring so much joy and they help to connect us to our inner child and to our sense of play. A sense of play and wonder is something we need to live.”

The library was built with recycled wood provided by film industry volunteers who live nearby.

“I actually cried when they first installed it. It was beautiful,” Ravel said.

“The Vancouver film industry saw that our little dog library was struggling hard in the snow and wind and they stepped up to volunteer their time and resources to build the dog library that you see today.”

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At first, Ravel paid for most of the treats and supplies from her own pocket, but eventually secured a community grant.

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Two local dog treat companies have now stepped in as sponsors.

It is well loved by dogs and their owners in the tightly knit community, and sometimes serves up to 200 dogs a day.

“I can’t keep my dog from pulling me down the street because she knows where we are going,” volunteer Danielle Booth said.

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“If she wants a treat, she will just sit there. She won’t move until I give her a treat and sometimes I have to pretend that I’m giving her a treat!”

Elisa Wolfenden and her dog, Daisy, started out as borrowers, but have since been able to help stock the shelves themselves.

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In addition to bringing neighbours together, the library is an easily-accessible support for pet owners feeling the crunch from inflation.

“I think it’s a beautiful thing for the community,” Wolfenden said.

“I’ve been so happy to be able to return different things as well that she doesn’t fit into or she doesn’t need or from my last dog, so its been like a really lovely kind of give and take over the last couple months,” she added.

Ravel and Booth said they’ve found a handful of similar projects in the United States, but this is the only ‘dog library’ in B.C. that they are aware of.

They hope the project continues to grow and that their work inspires others to start their own.

“One of my favorite things is watching people come across the dog library for the first time,” Ravel said.

“(They) witness the everyday magic of encountering something unexpectedly delightful. It is so special.”

With files from Travis Prasad. 

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