The Just Love Project 001: Meet Bill Sonntag – President of MonDog

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“I couldn’t stand the trash,” Bill Sonntag begins as he reflects on when he first came to Montrose Dog Beach over five years ago. “At first I thought about calling or complaining to someone. How could they let this beautiful beach become piled with litter?”

“But then I realized that I am “they,” Bill continues with a laugh. “I guess that’s the beauty of Montrose Dog Beach – it makes philosophers of us all.”

So one day Bill simply bent down and began to pick up litter. While his pup, Maddie, raced around him, Bill cleaned a small area of the beach. “It was a kind of meditation,” he says. “I kept picking up litter, lost track of time, forgot it was lunch, and forgot I was even hungry.”

Then an interesting thing happened.

“When I finally lifted my head I saw that people all along the shore had started to pick up trash. I didn’t ask them to, I just think that they felt inspired to do it. That shared inspiration is what makes the beach so special. It’s a powerful emotion you feel each time you visit, no matter how many times you’ve been before.”

Bill’s impromptu clean up led him to connect with the board members of MonDog, the volunteer organization tasked with the beach’s upkeep. A small group of dedicated individuals, the MonDog board works to keep the beach safe and fun for both pups and people.

MonDog, Chicago

“Santa Paws” (Bill) and the MonDog board at the annual Santa Paws fundraiser

“If the dog beach is to last, somebody has to take care of it and keep it going. I wanted to be somebody who did that so we can always have this special place to share,” Bill says.

Bill officially joined the MonDog board to do just that. He now serves as its President.

“My title, like the stuff I pick up, is garbage” Bill insists. “I’m just a guy who disposes trash and occasionally dresses like “Santa Paws” to raise money for poop bags.”

Bill’s humor and warm demeanor are a fixture at Montrose Dog Beach. You’re liable to see him anytime from sunrise to sunset. The beach is cleaner than ever before but Bill is quick to say his work is never done. Which is why Bill has a standard response when people ask what they can do to help the Montrose Dog Beach community thrive and grow.

“Two things,” he says. “One, act presidential and pick up any trash you see. Two, share love – with both people and dogs. Because that’s why we’re all here, right?”


Keeping the beach clean means keeping the beach safe. So have fun and don’t forget to act presidential, like Bill


If you’d like to help keep Montrose Dog Beach clean, you can sign up here for MonDog’s Earth Day Cleanup. Hope to see you there!

This blog post is part of Mutt Jackson’s THE JUST LOVE PROJECT. On a weekly basis, we’re posting stories that highlight the moments of love and kindness we discover through experiences with our fellow humans and dogs. We’re starting with stories centered around our beloved Montrose Dog Beach and will expand worldwide.

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