TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN
Alice Yerex visits with her Shelties, Vegas and Buddy, in the gazebo at the East End Dog Park on Victoria Avenue East on Tuesday afternoon. For her 80th birthday, Yerex, the unofficial caretaker for the park, purchased an assortment of dog treats and spent the day offering them to everyone who visited the park.
With her two Shelties — Vegas and Buddy — by her side, Alice Yerex marked her 80th birthday Tuesday at one of her favourite places — the East End Dog Park.
Alice Yerex is framed by Amy, a German shorthaired pointer, as she sits with friends at the dog park on Victoria Avenue East on Tuesday. (TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN)
Alice Yerex visits with dog-park regular Skippy in the gazebo at the East End Dog Park on Tuesday afternoon. (TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN)
Yerex stocked up on dog treats and spent the entire day with friends, both two-legged and four-legged.
"I come out here and there’s so many nice people … the dogs are generally well-behaved, and my two dogs don’t go too far because they’re Mama’s boys," Yerex said with a laugh.
Yerex is a very familiar face to dog owners in the area, taking on the task of unofficial caretaker since the park opened about four years ago.
She is at the park almost every day, and co-ordinates spring cleaning, brings water for the pooches and always has a friendly "hello" for everyone who comes by.
"You generally know the dogs’ names more than you know the people’s names," Yerex said.
Some friends have affectionately named her the "mayor" of the dog park.
"She’s one of those unsung heroes," said Shelley Wray, who has been regularly going to the park since October.
"We haven’t lived in Brandon very long and … there’s just something about (Alice) that just makes me think … ‘Isn’t Brandon a nice place to live?’" Wray said.
"She is one of those people who has a passion, and she follows it. I love that she’s just interested in her community. She’s interested in what goes on in the park. She talks to people, she knows all the dogs and all the people by name, and I just think it’s a very cool thing."
Wray said the park brings people of all walks of life and all ages together.
"We were there the other day and there was Alice and a man who was about 50, and then a young guy who was about 20, and they were all sitting their with their dogs having this wonderful conversation," Wray said.
Yerex has been instrumental in acquiring several nice amenities for the park over the years, including a gazebo, benches, a double gate, portable toilet, tables and a solar light.
"We’ve been very lucky, we really have," Yerex said.
Tom Keep, the city’s environmental initiatives manager, said Yerex is a "real go-getter" when it comes to maintaining the park.
"She’s the kind of person you want to do things for, because she’s such a sweetheart," Keep said.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 2, 2012