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seated l to r Gloria Shouse, Alice Adams, Katheryn Livingood, Margaret Wilson standing Olive Henderson and Jo Spalti

A spring tea party honoring the most senior members of Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) was hosted by Senior Co-Pastor, Dr. Debbie Chisolm, and the Disciples Women’s Ministries on March 22. 

 

Guests of honor were Alice Adams, Marybess Grisham, Anna King, Jessie Rodgers and Gloria Shouse.

 

Some of the honorees attending the tea— now residing in various East Dallas senior communities— are no longer able to be present at Sunday worship services on a regular basis, due to health and mobility limitations.  The tea was a way for the congregation to spend some special time with those members.  Elders provided them transportation to and from the church for the occasion.

 

The menu included traditional “tea” fare — scones with jam and clotted cream, consommé, assorted finger sandwiches and sweets.

 

Musical entertainment was provided by pianists, Carolyn Shinn and David Aston, violinist, Rosie Ninesling and soloist, Colleen Oates.

 

Guests of honor received a corsage of cymbidium orchard and baby’s breath upon arrival, and each went home with a “potted plant of spring flowers” made especially for them by children who attended Central’s Winter Bible School.

 

The spring tea honoring senior members will be a new tradition at Central.

 

Central Christian Church is located at 4711 Westside Dr. just off Mockingbird Lane.  It is home to a dog park (voted best in Dallas by Dallas Observer) and the Acres Community Garden named in honor of Central member Ebby Halliday Acres and her late husband, Maurice Acres.   The garden is the largest contributor of fresh produce to North Dallas Shared Ministries during the growing season.

 

Worship services are broadcast on WRR (101.1) at 9:00 on Sunday mornings. 

 

Central Christian Church is the oldest continuously operating protestant church in Dallas, but it is young at heart.  Come and see!

 

 

 

 

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Students From Booker T. Washington And R. L. Turner High School

Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) celebrated St. Patrick’s Day Sunday afternoon in the church’s fellowship hall following morning worship. 

After enjoying a green-themed buffet, members and guests of the church, had the opportunity to enjoy a special performance by students from Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts and R. L. Turner High School, under the direction of their private voice teacher, Marsha Anderson.  Anderson has recently joined the soprano section of Central’s choir.  

 The students will be competing in the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) on March 22 in Ft Worth at Texas Wesleyan College. NATS is one of the largest and most respected singing pedagogy organizations of its kind in the world. 

At Sunday’s concert, the students performed art songs in the classical tradition with piano accompanist, Courtney Guion,  

Central Christian Church is located at 4711 Westside Dr. just off Mockingbird Lane.  It is home to a dog park (voted best in Dallas by Dallas Observer) and a community garden that is the largest contributor of fresh produce to North Dallas Shared Ministries during the growing season.  

The services are broadcast on WRR (101.1) at 9:00 on Sunday mornings.  All are welcome at Central.  Come and see!

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Irish Stew Served At Trinity Hall Irish Pub

With St. Patrick’s Day approaching and Dallasites all around becoming Irish for the weekend, my friend Laura (knowing that I love to cook and consider myself somewhat of a knowledgeable “foodie”) asked me if Irish stew is made from beef or lamb.

 

"Lamb,” I assured her, confident with my response.

 

However, the closer we get to St. Patrick’s Day, “everything Irish” becomes more and more prominent.  Grocery stores begin advertising corned beef and cabbage and displaying end cases of green beer.

 

In my Lower Greenville neighborhood, restaurants and bars begin planning for the crowds of leprechauns that will create a sea of green on Greenville Avenue during the annual street party.

 

With all of this “Irish” influence, I started questioning if the traditional Irish stew was really made from lamb or the more popular beef we find on menus today.

 

To get an answer, I asked the source— the restaurants that serve Irish fare.

 

 I discovered that while Dubliner on Greenville Avenue and Malarkeys on Trinity Mills serves up a bowl of beef, Trinity Hall Irish Pub in Mockingbird Station ladles a dish of lamb.

 

All three restaurants are equally proud of their Irish stew, each considering their dish to be both delicious and traditional. 

 

Now, I’m even more confused.  In need of help, I decided to phone a friend—a friend in Boston.

 

After all, the first St. Patrick's Day Celebration in America is believed to have been held in Boston in 1737. Today the South Boston St. Patrick's Day parade is the second largest parade in the country. Boston, with its large Irish population, has numerous Irish Pubs and restaurants catering to both tourists and locals.

 

Emmets Pub and Restaurant on Boston’s Beacon Hill boasts, “You could be in Ireland in here.” Customer testimonials reflect, “This is one of the few places I have come across with born and bred Irish owners.”

 

With that reference for documentation, I called Emmets and spoke with General Manager Oran McGonagle.  When I asked if the stew at Emmets was made with beef or lamb, he said, “Irish stew is made with beef.  Shepherd’s Pie is made with lamb.”

 

“Is the stew traditionally made from beef?” I asked.

 

“Irish Stew is a stewed beef. The cheapest cut of beef, but nonetheless— beef.  Our stew here is made with beef, and my mother makes her stew with beef,” he said. 

 

Remembering Mother Machree, I questioned McGonagle no more.

 

 So what’s the beef?

 

The beef is that I still did not know my answer, for sure, but that it was starting to look like I was wrong. Lamb was not the traditional meat in Irish stew.  However, still not totally convinced, I hunted on, digging into the history of this one pot meal from Ireland. 

 

I discovered that the original stew, "ballymaloe” or “Stobhach Gaelach,” (as it is called in Gaelic) is a traditional stew made from lamb or mutton.  Mutton was most often used because it comes from less tender sheep (those over a year old), is fattier and has a stronger flavor.  Potatoes, onions, parsley and, sometimes, parsnips and carrots were added to the stew pot.    

 

If the traditional Irish stew was made with mutton or lamb, why is it served more often today with beef? (Even the world famous Guinness Storehouse in Dublin is using beef in place of lamb in their famous Irish stew.)

 

Many Americans prefer the more familiar taste of beef over that of lamb. But besides a taste preference, when the Irish people began immigrating to the United States, fleeing from the ravages of starvation caused by the potato famine, they naturally brought along their wonderful hearty food traditions.   Lamb was not as plentiful in America as it was in Ireland, so they adapted their recipes to include the local offerings.

 

That all makes sense.  Today, beef or lamb is a personal preference, but one thing is for sure—eating Irish stew is a St. Patrick’s Day tradition.

 

Following are two recipes, one using beef and one using lamb, for Irish stew that you can serve on St. Patrick’s Day.

 

 

Irish Stew With Lamb

Cook Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes

Ingredients:

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 lb mutton or lamb cutlets (bone removed) cut into 2"/5cm chunks

2 lb potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters

1 cup onion, roughly chopped

1 cup leeks, cleaned and finely sliced

1 cup carrots, roughly chopped

1½ pints dark beef stock

2 or 3 cabbage leaves, thinly sliced (optional)

Salt and Pepper

Preparation:

Heat the oven to 350F

In a large frying pan heat half the oil to hot but not smoking. Add half the lamb pieces and brown all over. Remove the lamb and place in a casserole, cover with a half of the potatoes, onions, leeks and carrots.

Add the remaining oil to the frying pan, heat again, then add the remaining lamb and brown all over. Add to the casserole and cover with the remaining vegetables.

Add the stock, cover with a tight fitting lid, cook in the oven for 1 hour. Add the cabbage (if using) replace the lid and cook for another hour. Check from time to time to make sure the stock isn't reducing too much, if it is add a little boiling water. The meat and vegetables should always be covered by liquid. If the sauce is too runny at the end, cook a little longer with the lid removed. Season with salt and pepper.

 

 

Beef and Irish Stout Stew

 

Cook Time: 2 – 3 hours

Ingredients:

 

2 pounds lean beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes

 

3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

 

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

 

1 pinch salt and ground black pepper to taste

 

1 pinch cayenne pepper

 

2 large onions, chopped

 

1 clove garlic, crushed

 

2 tablespoons tomato paste

 

1 1/2 cups Irish stout beer (such as Guinness®)

 

2 cups chopped carrot

 

1 sprig fresh thyme

 

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley for garnish

 

Preparation:

 

Toss the beef cubes with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Dredge the beef in this to coat.

 

Heat the remaining oil in a deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the beef, and brown on all sides. Add the onions, and garlic. Stir the tomato paste into a small amount of water to dilute; pour into the pan and stir to blend. Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and cook for 5 minutes.

 

Pour 1/2 cup of the beer into the pan, and as it begins to boil, scrape any bits of food from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. This adds a lot of flavor to the broth. Pour in the rest of the beer, and add the carrots and thyme. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning before serving. Garnish with chopped parsley.

 

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Irish Stew Served at Trinity Hall

With St. Patrick’s Day approaching and Dallasites all around becoming Irish for the weekend, my friend Laura (knowing that I love to cook and consider myself somewhat of a knowledgeable “foodie”) asked me if Irish stew is made from beef or lamb.

 

"Lamb,” I assured her, confident with my response.

 

However, the closer we get to the St. Patrick’s Day, “everything Irish” becomes more and more prominent.  Grocery stores begin advertising corned beef and cabbage and displaying end cases of green beer.

 

In my Lower Greenville neighborhood, restaurants and bars begin planning for the crowds of leprechauns that will create a sea of green on Greenville Avenue during the annual street party.

 

With all of this “Irish” influence, I started questioning if the traditional Irish stew was really made from lamb or the more popular beef we find on menus today.

 

To get an answer, I asked the source— the restaurants that serve Irish fare.

 

 I discovered that while Dubliner on Greenville Avenue and Malarkeys on Trinity Mills serves up a bowl of beef, Trinity Hall Irish Pub in Mockingbird Station ladles a dish of lamb.

 

All three restaurants are equally proud of their Irish stew, each considering their dish to be both delicious and traditional. 

 

Now, I’m even more confused.  In need of help, I decided to phone a friend—a friend in Boston.

 

After all, the first St. Patrick's Day Celebration in America is believed to have been held in Boston in 1737. Today the South Boston St. Patrick's Day parade is the second largest parade in the country. Boston, with its large Irish population, has numerous Irish Pubs and restaurants catering to both tourists and locals.

 

Emmets Pub and Restaurant on Boston’s Beacon Hill boasts, “You could be in Ireland in here.” Customer testimonials reflect, “This is one of the few places I have come across with born and bred Irish owners.”

 

With that reference for documentation, I called Emmets and spoke with General Manager Oran McGonagle.  When I asked if the stew at Emmets was made with beef or lamb, he said, “Irish stew is made with beef.  Shepherd’s Pie is made with lamb.”

 

“Is the stew traditionally made from beef?” I asked.

 

“Irish Stew is a stewed beef. The cheapest cut of beef, but nonetheless— beef.  Our stew here is made with beef, and my mother makes her stew with beef,” he said. 

 

Remembering Mother Machree, I questioned McGonagle no more.

 

 So what’s the beef?

 

The beef is that I still did not know my answer, for sure, but that it was starting to look like I was wrong. Lamb was not the traditional meat in Irish stew.  However, still not totally convinced, I hunted on, digging into the history of this one pot meal from Ireland. 

 

I discovered that the original stew, "ballymaloe” or “Stobhach Gaelach,” (as it is called in Gaelic) is a traditional stew made from lamb or mutton.  Mutton was most often used because it comes from less tender sheep (those over a year old), is fattier and has a stronger flavor.  Potatoes, onions, parsley and, sometimes, parsnips and carrots were added to the stew pot.    

 

If the traditional Irish stew was made with mutton or lamb, why is it served more often today with beef? (Even the world famous Guinness Storehouse in Dublin is using beef in place of lamb in their famous Irish stew.)

 

Many Americans prefer the more familiar taste of beef over that of lamb. But besides a taste preference, when the Irish people began immigrating to the United States, fleeing from the ravages of starvation caused by the potato famine, they naturally brought along their wonderful hearty food traditions.   Lamb was not as plentiful in America as it was in Ireland, so they adapted their recipes to include the local offerings.

 

That all makes sense.  Today, beef or lamb is a personal preference, but one thing is for sure—eating Irish stew is a St. Patrick’s Day tradition.

 

Following are two recipes, one using beef and one using lamb, for Irish stew that you can serve on St. Patrick’s Day.

 

 

Irish Stew With Lamb

Cook Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes

Ingredients:

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 lb mutton or lamb cutlets (bone removed) cut into 2"/5cm chunks

2 lb potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters

1 cup onion, roughly chopped

1 cup leeks, cleaned and finely sliced

1 cup carrots, roughly chopped

1½ pints dark beef stock

2 or 3 cabbage leaves, thinly sliced (optional)

Salt and Pepper

Preparation:

Heat the oven to 350F

In a large frying pan heat half the oil to hot but not smoking. Add half the lamb pieces and brown all over. Remove the lamb and place in a casserole, cover with a half of the potatoes, onions, leeks and carrots.

Add the remaining oil to the frying pan, heat again, then add the remaining lamb and brown all over. Add to the casserole and cover with the remaining vegetables.

Add the stock, cover with a tight fitting lid, cook in the oven for 1 hour. Add the cabbage (if using) replace the lid and cook for another hour. Check from time to time to make sure the stock isn't reducing too much, if it is add a little boiling water. The meat and vegetables should always be covered by liquid. If the sauce is too runny at the end, cook a little longer with the lid removed. Season with salt and pepper.

 

 

Beef and Irish Stout Stew

 

Cook Time: 2 – 3 hours

Ingredients:

 

2 pounds lean beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 pinch salt and ground black pepper to taste

1 pinch cayenne pepper

2 large onions, chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 1/2 cups Irish stout beer (such as Guinness®)

2 cups chopped carrot

1 sprig fresh thyme

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley for garnish

 

Preparation:

 

Toss the beef cubes with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Dredge the beef in this to coat.

 

Heat the remaining oil in a deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the beef, and brown on all sides. Add the onions, and garlic. Stir the tomato paste into a small amount of water to dilute; pour into the pan and stir to blend. Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and cook for 5 minutes.

 

Pour 1/2 cup of the beer into the pan, and as it begins to boil, scrape any bits of food from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. This adds a lot of flavor to the broth. Pour in the rest of the beer, and add the carrots and thyme. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning before serving. Garnish with chopped parsley.

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The Book Trotters met Tuesday evening, March 4 in the Tank Room at Times Ten Cellars in Lakewood to discuss the March book selection, “River of the Arms of God.” 

 

A first time indulgence for this club was the book’s author attending the meeting and leading the discussion.

 

Irene Sandell, retired Texas history teacher and author of three historical novels, including “River of the Arms of God” joined the Book Trotters and shared insight from the author’s viewpoint into the book’s characters as they were developed.

 

The story is of two women trapped by family circumstance and social mores in the harsh Texas frontier.

 

Sarah, sold by her father, is held captive by and suffered at the hands of Eli in the mid 1800s.  One hundred years later Kate is the wife and emotional prisoner of a rancher in those same Texas plains.

 

The book was a finalist for the Willa Literary Award honoring outstanding literature featuring women's stories set in the Western United States.

 

To celebrate Texas—appetizers like “Texas Caviar” and brie from the Brazos Valley Cheese Co. were served along with barbecue sliders.  Dessert was a Texas sheet cake and Bluebell Ice Cream.

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Nellda Gallagher Plates Perfect Pancakes

Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras—by any name is Pancake Tuesday.

 

Why do we eat pancakes on Fat Tuesday, which is the last celebration before Lent? 

 

Traditionally, during the Lenten season (Ash Wednesday till Maundy Thursday) no animals or animal by-products could be consumed. Frugal households attempted to “use-up” larder stored items such as eggs, butter and milk rather than have them spoil during this 45 day period before they could once again be eaten.

 

A meal of pancakes, also known as hotcakes, griddlecakes or flapjacks, filled the bill for using up those ingredients.  With the addition of syrup, whipped cream or fruit topping, they easily become a “carnival in your mouth,” resulting in the tradition of festive pancake suppers at homes, parties and parish gatherings on the eve of Ash Wednesday..

 

From French Crepes to Russian Blinis, a pancake in some form or another is served by homemakers and restaurants all over the world. Archeological studies indicate that the pancake was even served during prehistoric times. However, in spite of its commonplace at the table, there is an art to making a light, tender pancake.

 

Only days away from Fat Tuesday, it was time to call in the experts.  I met with Chef Nellda Gallagher in the culinary arts kitchen of El Centro College in downtown Dallas to get professional tutelage on how to make the perfect pancake.

 

Gallagher is an instructional supervisor and adjunct instructor in the Food and Hospitality Institute at El Centro.  Previous food industry experience includes banquet and executive chef positions and corporate chef for Dallas icon, Mary Kay Cosmetics.

 

“What is a perfect pancake?” I asked. 

 

“In my opinion, a pancake should be light and puffy—a “cake-like” texture with a slight tang to offset the sweetness of the syrup,” Gallagher said.

 

The acidic in the recipe used by Gallagher is buttermilk and sour cream.  The acidic helps to produce that tang and also helps tenderize the pancake.  

 

“The cooked pancake should be golden brown with a slightly crisp edge,” she said. The butter and the eggs in the recipe help to add color.

 

Pancakes are categorized “quick bread” so in preparation, the wet ingredients are added to the dry ingredients.

 

 “I do this by making a well in the dry ingredients and then begin adding the liquid while stirring with a spoon,” Gallagher said. “Do not over mix the batter; (this is no time for a whisk).  The batter should appear lumpy,” she added.

 

Let the batter rest for about ten minutes to activate the acidic with the baking powder.  Baking powder has a shelf life of about six months, so buy it in small quantities.

 

Prepare the pan or griddle according to directions.  Spoon the batter, about ¼ cup, onto the hot surface.  Watch for the bubbles to appear on the pancake as it cooks. The bubbles indicate when it is time to turn

 

The recipe calls for holding the pancake in a slow oven, but you can also use a warming drawer, or as Gallagher prefers, a tortilla ceramic.  She does hold fast to serving the pancakes with melted butter and warmed syrup.  “Nothing cools down a warm pancake quicker than cold butter and syrup,” she said.

 

Now for the taste test. With the addition of some butter and maple syrup, the pancakes were ready to enjoy. They were light, puffy and tender; and they absorbed the butter and syrup, rather than letting those condiments run off onto the plate. Delicious!  Gallagher had produced that perfect pancake I was looking for. 

 

By following the recipe below, with some practice, you can serve a pancake fit for a king—even King Rex!

 

If you would like to learn more about the Food and Hospitality Program at El Centro, or just want to hang-out with the renowned Dallas chefs and sample some delicious food, beer and wine, you are invited to join El Centro for “Bits and Bites” on Sunday Mar. 30. It’s a party honoring Gus Katrigris, founder of the hospitality department.  Proceeds from ticket sales will go toward expanding the facility. Visit www.elcentrocollege.org for ticket information.

 

Best Buttermilk Pancakes

(Makes 16 4-in. pancakes; serves 4 to 6}

 

2 cups unbleached, all purpose flour.  See note*

2 tablespoons sugar

½ teaspoon table salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 cups buttermilk

¼ cup sour cream

2 large eggs

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

1 – 2 teaspoons vegetable oil for cooking

 

*The test kitchen prefers a lower-protein flour like Pillsbury or Gold Medal.  If using a higher-protein brand like King Arthur, you will need to use an extra one or two tablespoons of buttermilk.

  

For holding cooked pancakes:  Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Set wire rack inside cookie sheet and spray with nonstick cooking spray.  Place in oven.

 

Prepare batter:  Whisk flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda together in medium size bowl.  In second medium sized bowl, whist together buttermilk, sour cream, eggs and melted butter.  Make well in center of dry ingredients and pour in wet ingredients; gently stir until just combined (batter should remain lumpy with few streaks of flour). Do not over mix.  Allow batter to sit 10 minutes before cooking.

 

Cook pancakes:  Heat 1 teaspoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet (or heat griddle) over medium heat until shimmering.  Using paper towel, carefully wipe out oil, leaving thin film of oil on bottom of frying pan or griddle.  Using ½ cup measure, portion batter into pan or onto griddle.  Cook until edges are set, bottom side is golden brown and bubbles on top surface are just beginning to break, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Using thin, wide spatula, flip pancakes and continue to cook until second side is golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes longer.

 

Serve pancakes immediately, or hold in oven or warming drawer. 

 

Repeat with remaining batter, using additional oil as necessary.

 

Serve with desired toppings. Any leftover pancakes freeze well.

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Flower pots will be delivered to church members who are "shut-in"

This group of young boys spent Saturday, Feb.22 celebrating “Hay Day” during Winter Bible School at Central Christian Church.“Jesus Is My Friend” was the Bible School theme and an improvised barnyard, the set.

The children played games with characters like “Sunflower Sam,” had a barn-stomping good time foot painting a worship banner and created pots of flowers that will be delivered to church member “shut-ins,” in order to share some spring sunshine with them.     

Central Christian Church is located at 4711 Westside Dr. just off Mockingbird Lane. It is home to a dog park (voted best in Dallas by Dallas Observer) and a community garden. The services are broadcast on WRR (101.1) at 9:00 on Sunday mornings.

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Flower pots will be delivered to shut-ins

This group of young boys spent Saturday, Feb.22 celebrating “Hay Day” during Winter Bible School at Central Christian Church.“Jesus Is My Friend” was the Bible School theme and an improvised barnyard, the set.

The children played games with characters like “Sunflower Sam,” had a barn-stomping good time "foot painting" a worship banner and creating pots of flowers that will be delivered to church member “shut-ins,” sharing some spring sunshine with them.   

 Central Christian Church is located at 4711 Westside Dr. just off Mockingbird Lane. It is home to a dog park (voted best in Dallas by Dallas Observer) and a community garden. The services are broadcast on WRR (101.1) at 9:00 on Sunday mornings.

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During morning worship on Feb. 16, senior pastor Dr. Debbie Chisolm delivered a beautiful sermon on the topic of upholding love and what it can accomplish. 

 

Following the service, the congregation and their guests gathered in the church’s fellowship hall to enjoy a pot-luck dinner.

 

Pink and red hearts and flowers filled the room with the spirit of St. Valentine while the North Texas Jazz Band Trio performed classical love songs.  Boxes of chocolates were given as prizes to winners of “valentine-themed” games.

 

Central Christian Church is the oldest continuously operating Protestant church in Dallas and it celebrated its 150th anniversary last year.

 

Located on six acres at 4711 Westside Dr.— just off Mockingbird Lane— it is home to a community dog park (voted best in Dallas by Dallas Observer) and a community garden.

 

Central supports many local charities and offers a variety of community service opportunities to its members.

 

The services are broadcast on WRR (101.1 FM) at 9 a.m. on Sunday mornings.

 

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A Sunny Day at the Dog Park

 

Americans spend billions of dollars every year on pet food and treatseven more on veterinary care, grooming, schooling and clothing.

 

I once had a Westie, (West Highland White Terrier) whose body seemed to be made for doggie tee’s, sweaters and coats. One of my best friends would often comment regarding my little terrier, “Tibbie can wear right off the rack.”

 

My sister often referred to her Yorkie (Yorkshire Terrier) as a “clothes horse.” 

 

We buy airline tickets for our dogs. We reserve them a space at a premier hotel that understands how special they are and greets their arrival with a “doggie bag.”

 

If they can’t possibly accompany us on our travels, we arrange a special stay for them at one of the doggie hotels. Urban Paws offers a room with a view of the city for a small extra fee.

 

Anxious dog owners, if leaving their pet behind, may choose a facility that has a webcam, so they can look in on their darling at various times during the day, especially at playtime to make sure he or she is socializing and not showing signs of separation anxiety.    

 

Some of us, who would not consider leaving our beloved pet alone while we are at work,  allow a few extra minutes on our commute time to drop our pet off at “doggie daycare.”

 

If all this sounds “far-fetched”—apparently it’s not. People are making a living providing these services.

 

Why this obsession with our dogs? Some would say that we are giving dogs human qualities that they do not understand or desire, since dogs are pack animals and a different species from their human masters.

 

I decided to ask some devoted dog owners just what it is that makes us so crazy in love with our dog.

 

Where is the best place to catch up with dogs and their owners?  The dog playground of course?

 

Since the first city-owned, dog park (located at White Rock Lake) opened in Dallas over a decade ago, off-leash dog parks have become popular throughout the city. Dogs and their owners frequent these parks daily and like all outdoor activities, pretty weather brings them out in droves.

 

At Central Dog Park, located at 4711 Westside Dr., I visited with Ramsey Rodriquez and his beautiful white Boxer, Cosmos. Central Dog Park is owned and operated by Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) where Rodriquez is a member. He and Cosmos were enjoying sunshine, as well as the company of one another.  

 

I asked just what makes Cosmos so special?  “Cosmos and I are companions.  We hang out here in the dog park, often.” Rodriquez said. “That is one of my dog’s traits that make him such a great companion.  He is willing to hang out with me whenever and wherever I want.”

 

When Cosmos was a puppy he had an accident that required an expensive surgery. “I paid the bill and Cosmos received the care he needed. The cost was a financial sacrifice, but I couldn’t put a price on Cosmos.”     

 

Janet Morris, a resident of Vickery Place neighborhood, was also visiting the dog park with her trio of rescue dogs. 

 

"I love spending my time in the company of animals, as is shown by the 25-plus years that I spent serving as a shelter veterinarian. My own pets, three big dogs and one elderly cat, are certainly no exception, and I would do anything for them,” Morris said.

 

Morris shared that nine-year-old Leia has undergone two hip surgeries including a total hip replacement as well as radiation treatment for a bony tumor on her jaw, but she still meets everyday with a smile.

 

“My dogs are my happy friends that never say no. They are always ready for a walk around the block, a romp at the dog park, or a hike in the woods,” Morris said.

 

According to these dog lovers dogs are devoted companions and best friends. For sure they have a way of stealing our heart, making them a special valentine.