Exiting the Brooklyn Bridge with pooch in tow and no time to get to your local dog park before that meeting in Chelsea? Never fear -- HeyWalkies.com dog-park locator is here!
At the risk of making Francesca and Sharkey jealous, I want to introduce you to Nancye (pronounced like Nancy), who is the Frenchie face on a cool new Website and iPhone app that helps New Yorkers easily locate dog-friendly parks to take Fido for a frolic. Turns out they are not a bad place to meet other humans who share your love of canines as well.
The iPhone app and website was spurred by The NYC BigApps Competition, which invites tech-savvy New Yorkers to develop easy ways to make use of data that the city was offering to the public. One data set was a listing of the five boroughs' dog parks.
Creating a way to improve the quality of life for The Big Apple's furry 4-legged residents and to connect with other 2-leggers who value their canine friends was a no-brainer for HeyWalkies.com developer Chad Jackson. "They always say, do what you love and love what you do," Chad says, "so after a little brainstorming with my Nancye, off we went creating the site and cell phone application."
Chad and Nancye are die-hard Daily Wag fans! So in an effort to keep DW readers in the know, they emailed to alert me about the project!
Chad and I connected via phone. But when Chad had to put down the receiver to tend to an office matter, Nancye stealthily hijacked the line. So I had the good fortune of hearing about the project from her…
1 “Dr. Pia?! Is this Daily Wag Pia?! The Pia who works with Franny and Sharkey??” Nancye asked.
2 Before I could answer, she added, “You know I’m a huge fan of their work...Francesca's and Sharkey's... I once thought I saw Francesca on the street and asked for a pawprint (pawtagraph) but it turned out not to be her! Sooooo embarrassing...anyhoo...."
3 "...Truth be told they were the inspiration for my HeyWalkies creation -- I mean Chad's creation..."
4 "Their use of the Internet to get the word out for canines is truly brilliant …. it's out-of-the-box thinking for sure.”
5 "Have you seen the site and cell phone app, Dr. Pia? Have Franny and Sharkey seen it? Martha?...You know that's me on the logo right?"
6 Fortunately I speak Caninese so was able to understand Nancye -- and all the big words she used. She had my ear and was talking a mile a minute.
7 I sensed a little bitterness insofar as it seemed Nancye was in fact the HeyWalkies creator while her human, Chad, got all of the credit.
8 Nancye "walked" me through the site and explained all the cool features and ease with which one can find a nearby patch of grass for your pooch.
9 According to Nancye, "There's really no good reason to leave 'fetching' pups like me at home anymore when you can so easily find a place to go for walkies."
10 "And users can post photos! I mean who wouldn't want to share this mug on the HeyWalkies site, to the HeyWalkies Facebook page or to their dog park posse? It'd be a loss not to. It's a rhetorical question but surely you agree Dr. Pia."
11 "A great deal of park research went into this whole venture, you know."
12 "I assessed various terrains and the relative degree of tree coverage."
13 "I noted if the park had a sand box or other ground variety and offerings."
14 "I sampled the local foliage and crunched the numbers of park fragrance factors 1 though 5.... You'll forgive me for all the technical terminology."
15 "Complicated calculations had to be executed related to ground speed, ball portability and ball-bounce factor 7."
16 "I tested seasonal viability and ran a few focus groups with canine colleagues. Sprinkles and Gus here were consenting study participants."
17 "...As was Dahlia, who engaged in some 'information sharing' or 'data exchange'... if you will."
18 "I won't kid you, Dr. Pia. It was hard work. And it required a great deal of data entry, which is not easy with Frenchie paws!"
19 "I worked a lot of long days and often went 3 to 4 hours at a time without a nap! Frankly, Chad was little bit of slacker on the job... but you didn't hear that from me!"
20 "Business lunches at places like my favorite Brooklyn sandwich shop punctuated the days, so it wasn't all bad. And I can write off those lunches on my taxes, so that's a plus!"
21 "A little doggie yoga in the Hamptons helped me regroup before our official launch earlier this month. I'm quite limber, you know."
22 "So now it's really just about hitting the streets and spreading the word..."
23 "...educating others on ways to use HeyWalkies.com to communicate with those who go to their dog parks or to share photos, etc."
24 "And explaining how HeyWalkies works to those who are in the know -- those with their ear to the ground and willing to listen."
The HeyWalkies app is free, and it is currently the only dog-related one in the BigApps lineup. Winning this friendly competition will allow Chad and Nancye to create more 'hound-helping' resources.
After Nancye finally surrendered the phone to Chad, he told me her story. While she was not an official rescue from a shelter, she may have wound up at one if he hadn't adopted her from a neglectful human who bought her on an impulse and didn't care for her properly.
It was when Nancye began turning her nose up a the small dog areas of local parks -- insisting instead on running with the big hounds -- that Chad began to take notice of what various NYC dog parks had to offer.
Chad's love for Nancye has made him want to help pooches in need, so he and I discussed some great ways to use similar technology for the benefit of shelter animals. And winning the competition could give him the tools to do just that! So let's hurry up and cast our votes for this canine-friendly resource at nycbigapps.com (The HeyWalkies icon is about half way down the list of apps.)
Phone's ringing..... Gotta run...looks like Nancye is calling me again see if I can secure a signed 8x10 glossy of Francesca and Sharkey! I offered her one of me but she wasn't interested. I guess you gotta have 4 legs to get the attention of Ms. Nancye!
I hope she remembers us 2-leggers when she hits the big time…
Dr. Pia Salk
PS: If you are looking to adopt a Frenchie or similar pup, visit marthastewart.com/pet-adoption and fill in the search form. Here are a few that are available for adoption right now!