“Bone Bar” Connects Neighbours & Their Dogs

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“Bone Bar” Connects Neighbours & Their Dogs
A Covid-grounded flight attendant discovers a way to bring joy to her neighbourhood

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Becky Sydeski and her Cavalier King Spaniel, Sandy

Becky Sydeski has devised a tasty way to create a sense of community between her neighbours, and a go-to spot for their dogs. By modifying the Little Free Library stand in her front yard that offered books to take or exchange, neighbours now have an opportunity to chat with one another at safe social distances, while their pets devour free treats.

As a flight attendant, Sydeski traveled a few days each week for years. When the pandemic hit, she retired and traded a cabin view of the clouds for a sunroom view of a previously bustling park. Social distancing guidelines had put an end to outdoor movies, soccer games, and a festival held every May. Soon she noticed a trend outside her Minneapolis, Minnesota home.

“The minute Covid happened, the traffic of dogs and people tripled, said Sydeski. “And this was winter.” 

Inspired by a friend setting out little toys for children, she decided to do something for dogs. One morning, she added treats to the selection of books available in the freestanding box and within days, the dogs in her Linden Hills neighbourhood guided their owners to the snacks. Word spread, traffic increased, and Sydeski went from filling the bowl once a week to almost every day. 

 

The notes range from “This is the best part of my day!” to “My dog pulls me here whenever we are within a block!”

 

When the treats inched out the books, her husband built a dog-house-shaped addition providing a separate space for the goodies. Sydeski dubbed it the “Bone Bar.” During walks with her Cavalier King Spaniel, Sandy, she asks dog owners if they’re part of the Bone Bar club. If not, she invites them to visit.

Curious about how many people and their pets were dropping by, she added a small notebook for visitors to leave messages with their pet’s name, breed, and where they lived. She wrote, “If you want the special treats, you need to sign up for the Bone Bar.” So far, more than 70 pet parents have shared the requested details about their dogs, along with messages.

The notes range from “This is the best part of my day!” to “My dog pulls me here whenever we are within a block!” to “Thank you for the daily treats. This is a must-stop every walk!”

At Christmas, Sydeski set out treat bags labelled with the name of each recent Bone Bar visitor. On Valentine’s Day, Bonnie Dudovitz and her dog Nuzzles, a Yorkipoo, passed by and noticed a container stuffed with small bags. Sydeski came outside and asked Bonnie for her dog’s name. They picked up the bag later that afternoon.

“The following day, I left a poem and a box of chocolates on Sydeski’s door from Nuzzles, to thank her,” Dudovitz said. “Someone is thinking about everyone else and giving a little perk, and I’m grateful for that.”

The Bone Bar is more than a frequent destination for pets; It’s a way for neighbours to meet and connect. Friends Sydeski hasn’t seen in years stop by in the winter for a treat and when she spots someone outside, she waves from her kitchen or sunroom. In warmer weather, she chats with old friends and those new to the Bone Bar, all at safe social distances. 

Sydeski provides a majority of the goodies, but neighbours occasionally drop bags of treats as a way to thank her for her generosity.

One neighbour, Pat Conlin, donated a bag of treats to share with other visitors in honour of her Eastern European Shepherd’s eighth birthday. She and Brandiwine sometimes visit the Bone Bar two or three days in a row. “She knows treats are in there,” said Conlin. “She automatically sits down and gives me her paw.” 

As the number of visitors to the neighbourhood snack spot grows, so does Sydeski’s desire to enlarge the space. She also plans to offer a wider selection of treats and label them with signs designating each type.

In addition to maintaining the Bone Bar, she’s working on a book called The Dogs of Linden Hills, featuring local dogs. She also started a “Bone Blog” and has gathered a few stories about the dogs who stop by. She anticipates collecting more tales within the next few months.

“Being a flight attendant, it’s the stories that I miss,” said Sydeski. “Now I can get the dog stories and people stories.” 

While the Bone Bar is a hobby, Sydeski takes her commitment seriously. When she’s received her two vaccines and it’s safe to travel, she’s going to visit her daughter in Arizona. Her main concern? Keeping the Bone Bar stocked while she’s away.

“I was an international traveller, now I obsess if I have enough treats in my dog house,” she said. “But watching the interaction is pure joy.”

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