Weavers Way’s third annual Pet-A-Palooza brought folks and their furry friends out to make more friends. A few hundred pet owners were in and out of the Mt. Airy Village, near the intersection of Greene Street and Carpenter Lane, for the Saturday event
The sectioned-off streets echoed with the live music of local artists and was filled with adoption booths, a flea market to benefit animals and finds for Fido.
Adopting a dog in need
Elisa Callahan is a greyhound owner who specifically came to Pet-A-Palooza to share the store of her and her pooch, Taylor, with other dog lovers.
Callahan is a volunteer with the Philadelphia Greyhound Connection, founded in 2003. She is also a self-proclaimed “failed” foster parent of the racing breed.
“I’m not a foster parent because I’ve tried it and I flunked,” she said. “You get so attached. It’s so easy [because] they’re really laid back, easy dogs.”
Callahan’s dog Taylor raced six times — four of those times he placed last and the other two he placed fourth.
“He came off the track pretty quick,” she said. “There’s others that stay on the track a lot longer, and then they bring them off and the rescue group tries to find homes for them.”
Callahan wants to help ensure dogs like Taylor can find a good home when their racing careers are over.
Raymond Vona, who is on the board of the Philadephia Greyhound Connection, said the dogs used to be euthanized until various adoption groups stepped in to find them homes.
The organization has facilitated adoptions for about 500 dogs over the past 10 years.
Raising dogs to help others
For Linda Dzuba’s Labrador retriever Mimi, trekking a busy fair and meeting nose-to-nose with other pups is all in a day’s work.
Linda and her husband Michael live just a few blocks from Weavers Way and came to Pet-A-Palooza to tell the story of their experience over the past few years while raising service dogs.
Michael said the couple accidentally got into raising service dogs when his wife gushed over newborn pups at a barbecue hosted by Darlene Sullivan, director of Canine Partners for Life.
“It’s turned out to have changed our lives,” he said.
Sullivan convinced the Dzubas to commit 14 months to giving basic training to and socializing their first service dog, Balick.
“This dog is regular at FitLife Fitness, it’s a regular at Valley Green Bank, it’s a regular at Weavers Way Co-op. She’s sort of been adopted by the community and Balick before her was also adopted by the community,” said Michael.
The two said they thought they’d grieve over returning their first dog, but they look at it as Balick going to college — something they’ve gone through with their human children.
“[When we return them,] the dog gets a roommate… they have play during the day, they have their classes where they learn how to retrieve things, how to turn on lights and open doors and drawers and close the doors,” Linda said. “They also can do laundry.”
The two said they take great pride in having raised Balick, who graduates “college” in October, and look forward to sending Mimi off in about a year.
But most of all, they’re happy their dogs will be helping someone in need.
A more unconventional pet
Meanwhile, Weavers Way Chicken Committee member Maureen Breen showed up with two of her pet chickens to prove a more political point.
The birds have been illegal in the city since 2004, and the co-op has assembled a committee to both lend support to chicken owners as well as push to legalize them.
“People are really surprised to hear that they’re illegal because they say ‘they’re all over my neighborhood,'” Breen said. “One of the steps [to legalizing them] is making people aware [they’re illegal] and of what backyard chickens are like.”
Jim Lando of Pittsburgh was visiting the area for his daughter’s college orientation and shocked to learn that the birds are illegal.
“[Chickens are] one of our favorite animals that we keep in Pittsburgh,” said Lando, who owns three. “They’re a lot of fun to have as pets, they’re really interesting to watch and they give us eggs.”