September 20, 2012

I am honored and grateful to have had the opportunity to lead the Somerville Dog Owners Group for the past eight years. I am writing to you today to announce my resignation as Chairperson, effective October 31, 2012.


We've come a long way since 2004

Do you remember that every park in Somerville used to be posted "No Dogs Allowed"?  The municipal ordinances actually prohibited the City from creating off-leash recreational areas.  Together, we worked with the City to amend the municipal ordinances and to create spaces where we can socialize and exercise our dogs off-leash. Our first off-leash recreational area opened in April 2006 in Nunziato Field. It felt like an eternity in dog years, but, in fact, it was just eighteen months after the co-founders of the the Somerville Dog Owners Group met for the first time at the Thirsty Scholar Pub on a rainy evening in September 2004. Today there are three city parks with designated, fenced-in off-leash recreational areas.  The second opened in 2008 at the brand new Ed Leathers Community Park, and the third opened in 2010 in the also brand new Community Park at Zero New Washington Street.


As the Chairperson of the Somerville Dog Owners Group, I have worked to position the group as advocate for--and a champion of--public open space.  Our very first event in 2004 was a park clean up at Conway Park. Since then we have organized clean-ups on the Community Path, Foss Park, Lincoln Park and Nunziato Field with partners including the Friends of the Community Path, the Foss Park Neighborhood Association, Groundwork Somerville and Somerville Youth Soccer. Every year we partner with the city in the city-wide Spring Clean Up.


We have raised money for Somerville Unleashed, the City's fund for the construction and maintenance of off-leash parks; we have walked in Walk for Animals to raise money for MSPCA-Angell, and our team in the Somerville Homeless Coalition 5k last year was the top fundraising team for SHC. We have organized free dog-training clinics and workshops with local business, City Dog Training and Magical Mutt. We honor our veterans by walking our dogs in the City's Memorial Day Parade every year. As a result our work Somerville is truly a great place to live, work, and play with dogs! 

Farewell, but not Goodbye

The third-annual Somerville Dog Festival showcased not only the joys of urban dog ownership; it showcased Somerville's friendly dog owners (and future dog owners!) as well as just how dog-friendly Somerville has become.  It meant a lot to me that so many people stopped by the som|dog booth to thank and congratulate us for helping to make the Festival possible.

I am excited about the opportunities ahead for the Somerville Dog Owner Group. I have corresponded and spoken with a lot of dog owners, and I know how much passion and how many great ideas you have. If you are interested in taking on an active role in som|dog's future, please contact me. I would welcome the opportunity to continue  to participate as much (or as little) as the Group's new leadership may want and to help build upon the foundation that we have laid over the past eight years. To that end, I am happy to hand over the infrastructure that exists (website, mailing list, etc.) to the new leadership. I hope my resignation does not close the book, but rather opens a new chapter for som|dog!
Thank you for your confidence in my vision through the years.  Every happy person I see with a happy dog in Somerville is my reward!

Michele Biscoe
with Strummer (Standard Poodle)