On a bitingly cold morning, spring only in name, Caty and Mike Burke lean into the wind while opening the beach gate for their dog, Sadie. You can tell how long someone’s been visiting the dog beach based on their clothing, and the Burke’s well-worn, utilitarian layers are a mark of experience. For this trio, beach days are not a function of weather, but of willingness.
Sadie eagerly bounds ahead, but the Burke’s pause for a ritual as familiar as the clothes they wear. Mike keeps an eye on Sadie while Caty restocks the waste bags near the entrance.
“We started coming so often with Sadie that we figured we might as well put ourselves to work,” Caty says. “It started with cleaning up, but after joining MonDog we now purchase and stock the bags year-round.”
“Dog bags seem pretty cheap until you’re buying them for the whole city.” Mike adds with a laugh.
Many people assume the Park District handles buying and replenishing the bags, but that responsibility actually belongs to MonDog, the volunteer group that oversees Montrose Dog Beach. And of the funds MonDog raises annualy, the vast majority goes towards this cost.
“It’s basic stuff, but it’s one of the most important things we do to help keep the beach clean for everyone,” Caty says as she finishes her work.
The Burkes walk onto the beach and Mike sends Sadie flying down the shore after her favorite frisbee. “Even after all these years, Sadie still loves coming here every day. We do, too,” Mike says.
“We’ve met so many great individuals, “Caty says sincerely. “Some of them were even people.” Caty smirks and turns to give Sadie another toss. The joke, the smile and the throw all feel second nature.
“That’s what we love about this place,” Caty says. “We come here every day and we still feel like it’s the best place in the world.”
“Seems to us that’s a pretty good reason to work to keep it that way,” Mike says.
If you would like to help support MonDog’s mission to keep Montrose Dog Beach clean, safe and welcoming to all, please consider donating to the organization or joining in for MonDog’s Earth Day Cleanup.
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.