"This dog library has gone through lots of different iterations," says Jacqueline Ravel of her popular pet project in East Vancouver.
A therapist by day, Ravel moonlights as a dog librarian by night, managing a free community hub of water, treats, and supplies for furry friends.
The library started out with water bowls and a paddling pool last summer to help dogs beat the heat, but has grown and evolved into a permanent year-round fixture in the Hastings-Sunrise neighbourhood with a large fan base of dogs and humans alike.
On a nice day, there could be up to 200 dogs lined up for treats which Ravel used to pay for with her own money. It's the most popular feature of the library and in the early days Ravel made a lot of treats herself, spening over $3,000 to keep it stocked. More recently generous corporate and community donations stepped in.
"It gets a lot of action," she jokes.
Ravel has three dogs herself and understands the power that animals have to connect people; that's a large part of why she started the library.
The other reason?
"Making myself laugh is a big part of this," she admits.
One of the first iterations of the library was a doggie nightclub affectionately named "After Bark" which would pop up during the summer—the strobe lights, bubble machine, and music attracting people to come and mingle with their dogs in the balmy night air.
Ravel also added a stick library and started having pop-up events with puppuccinos and pupsicles that she and her mom made. She hosted dog paw art in the park and fundraisers for dogs in the neighbourhood needing financial support for veterinary care.
In the autumn, she and 15 other houses in the neighbourhood got together for a Halloween treat crawl. Some 80 dogs showed up and their owners were all given a map to take their pups trick-or-treating.
"I'm big on relationships, connection, and community," she explains. "Some people are super connectors...I'm totally one of those people."
The library has changed spontaneously and organically in the last nine months, at times due to the weather. The original structure was an open-shelving unit but thanks to helpful neighbours who work in the film industry, a crew rallied to build a more durable structure with doors.
Similarly, a neighbour who works for Foley Dog Treats saw that a GoFundMe was set up to help Ravel afford to keep the library stocked. Now Foley is the official no-strings-attached sponsor of the dog library and keeps the jars stocked. A 60-pound delivery of treats just arrived yesterday.
"The community has also made treats and monetary donations," Ravel adds. "It has been so amazing to see how the community has come together to build and grow this special little project."
While Ravel is at the helm, she says the community and volunteer support definitely feels like the dog library belongs to everyone.