Oct. 12, 2016 By Hannah Wulkan
A piece of Sunnyside history has been immortalized in print.
The Sunnyside United Dog Society, a local advocacy and dog-owner group, released a book for sale on Amazon last week detailing its founding and influence on the community.
“It’s basically a snapshot in time of a neighborhood and it shows you what community activism can do,” said Rick Duro, a founding member of SUDS. “It’s a celebration of all things canine and a celebration of all things Sunnyside.”
Over the years, SUDS has grown to include over 500 members, but it began in late 2001, with several local dog owners coming together in Lou Lodati Park to let their dogs run around together, and foster a sense of community in the wake of the attacks on September 11.
The group began advocating for a dog run in the park, which was very run down, according to Duro, and 10 years later saw their vision become a reality. It also has grown in to a charitable group, frequently hosting fundraisers and events to help local animals and their owners.
Duro explained that when the group first began meeting in the park, it was a “disaster area,” but that while advocating for the dog run, SUDS put together a plan to reinvigorate the entire park, for dog owners and non-dog owners alike. “The book details how we got to this point,” Duro said.
The book came about as a fundraising idea, while the organization was thinking of ways to raise money for its latest effort—buying trauma kits for police dogs.
SUDS member Jeanette Remak, a professional writer, suggested the book and got the ball rolling in May. “When thinking about our group I thought, we need to tell the story of what goes on here, can you think what this might mean to another community trying to do the same thing?” Remak said.
Duro helped her put together material for the book, digging in to his extensive archive of photographs from the first 15 years of SUDS. Members of the group submitted stories and memories, and Remak edited all of the material together.
Claire Louise Williams, a graphic designer and SUDS member, offered to design the book, eventually leading to a 146-page, 8-by-10-inch coffee table book.
The book has sections devoted to the history and activism of SUDS, as well as nearly 70 biographies of local dogs. There are also pieces devoted to those very involved with the group, such as Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who helped them advocate for the dog run.
“We are very community minded, and the book is a dedication and highlight to that, and we wanted people to know you can do this in your own community, and it doesn’t take a lot of money, just a lot of hard work,” Remak said. “And if you read the stories they are funny, touching, so sad, so beautiful, so heartfelt, it’s hard for me to even verbalize it.”
SUDS will likely have the book for sale in several local shops in the coming months. To order a copy now or learn more about the book, visit https://www.amazon.com/S-U-D-S-Dogs-brought-Community-together/dp/1533679932/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1475847652&sr=1-4&keywords=jeannette%20remak.