I am writing to applaud your article “Ol’ Yeller” (1/27). I am the proud owner of a 10-year-old Keeshond named Remy. Remy is a very furry, very lovable, former member of the Kingsman Field Dog Park. Thanks to Gail Kelley.
When I first moved to the neighborhood in 2002—the same year as Gail Kelley—I was very happy to have a dog for two reasons. First, my dog provided me with added security. As a single woman, this was very important to me. Second, because I was out walking my dog every day, I met a lot of people in my neighborhood. I met dog owners, cat owners, and goldfish owners. I even met people without dogs. I grew to love my new neighborhood and my new friends.
Until the day that I was verbally attacked by Gail Kelley. With her camera.
If you’ve never had someone run across a field, in their pajamas, yelling, while taking your picture—well, you should try it. While completely disturbing on so many levels, it’s also somewhat entertaining to watch because of how ridiculous it is.
Yes, I am one of the neighbors that Gail has spent so much of her time on. While I recently moved—still in D.C.—I often catch up with friends who live within blocks of Kingsman Field and am shocked to hear that she’s still at it.
Those of us who went to Kingsman became friends. We had a community. And then one day, Gail just decided to wipe it out. To a certain extent, I can understand why she doesn’t want a dog park across the street from her house. What I cannot understand is why she remains so resistant to working with us when so many of the other neighbors are happy to.
On several occasions (at a community meeting, yelled through the fence, and in front of her house) I had the opportunity to hear the many reasons Gail didn’t want the dog park. Sometimes she said it was because of the noise.
Sometimes it was for the sake of the poor kids who were all so scared. Sometimes it was to preserve quality of the field.
The “dog people” are sincere about using the park safely and courteously. We want to be friendly, good neighbors to everyone in the neighborhood. I want to share some examples of how that was happening.
1. The “dog people” cleaned the park. Not only did we clean up after our dogs, but we cleaned up after the kids who played there during the school day. We even cleaned up after whoever used the field in the wee hours. “Dog people” come equipped with bags to do this cleanup work. I don’t know if you’ve ever picked up a used condom or dirty underwear before, but it’s not something you really want to touch directly.
2. Dogs deter crime. It’s simple. Some of the neighbors around Kingsman say that they don’t have crime on their block. And maybe there aren’t very many problems. But the man on LSD who visited the park one spring morning to talk to the kids there was turned away by the “dog people”.
I have many friends who are D.C. cops. I know what goes on in the neighborhood. There are real crimes taking place near Kingsman and throughout that area’s PSA. It disturbs me greatly that Gail has nothing better to do than to call the police to report a dog off-leash. Cops have a hard job to do. Nuisance complaints don’t make it any easier. I hope no one ever really needs them when they are on a “call” for Gail.
3. The “dog people” have spent a lot of time talking to the neighbors around Kingsman Field. We were willing to establish a schedule for field use. We wanted to schedule cleanup of the field. We were going to “police” ourselves by asking any irresponsible dog owner not to come to the park. We attended meetings. We lived through our pictures being taken at 6 a.m.—not an attractive time for most. I wonder how Gail would feel if we started to photograph her first thing in the morning?
I wonder, does her collection of dog pictures include the ones of my dog with the kids who attend the school adjacent to Kingsman Field?
Those pictures will show smiling children and a happy dog. (Maybe she doesn’t keep those?) All I know is that those kids used to come early so they could be the one who got to walk my dog. Every now and then I still see some of those kids, and they always ask me to bring Remy over so that they can pet her.
I hope your newspaper will continue to follow this story as it develops. It surely will. Thank you for your coverage.