IMAGE: WindowBox Masthead
In This Issue...
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Canine Crews: Where Wet Noses and Belly Rubs Abound
A Fairytale in Four Courses
Lucy Flower Fundraising Kicks Into High Gear
Ask the Alderman: Handbill Hell

Where Wet Noses and Belly Rubs Abound


IMAGE: DogIt’s a scene that’s all too familiar for many city-dwelling dog owners:
You come home from work, exhausted after a long day of meetings, your mind focused on that big presentation you have tomorrow. But Fido greets you at the door with seemingly boundless energy, tail wagging furiously, clearly expecting a game of catch or an extended romp in the park. 
Or maybe Fido’s been busy while you were gone and you find your couch cushion ripped to shreds, or your favorite shoes chewed beyond recognition.
Oh...and he’s also left a “present” by the back door that will need your immediate attention.
As much as we love our furry friends, it can be a challenge to give them all the exercise, stimulation, and social time with other dogs that they so desperately crave. Enter Canine Crews, an eco-friendly doggy daycare and boarding facility located at 1616 N. Washtenaw in West Bucktown. 
IMAGE: Dog Playground“Dogs are pack animals by nature,” explains Catherine Crews, owner and “top dog” at Canine Crews. “Unfortunately, in today’s world they don’t get much chance to hang out as a pack, so some dogs can become overly aggressive or fearful around other dogs. Socialization is a great solution – the pack will ‘correct’ newcomers and let then know what they like and don’t like about their behavior. You can literally watch a dog learning from the other dogs and striving to be better so he can join in the play. It’s a beautiful thing.”

With a whopping 12,000 square feet of space, Canine Crews is one of the larger doggy daycares in Chicago – and one of the few equipped to handle large-breed dogs like Mastiffs and Great Danes. The facility offers more than 6,000 square feet of dedicated indoor play space, as well as a large fenced-in outdoor play yard. The dogs (between 60 and 90 on any given day) are grouped together by size, temperament and age, so they get to run, romp, and relax with similar playmates.
IMAGE: Dog Playroom“Our owners tell us all the time that when they pick up their pooches at the end of the day, they’re relaxed and happy and content to just go home and chill out with their family,” says Catherine. “This eliminates a lot of guilt for working owners, and takes the stress out of the evening. A well-exercised dog is a well-behaved dog!”
Growing up, Catherine was that kid who brought home every animal imaginable to save. She had dogs, cats, fish, birds, snakes – even a white mouse that she tried unsuccessfully to hide from her mother. As an adult, she spent 12 years selling steel while working with animal rescue groups and fostering dogs on the side. But after a series of personal life-changing events – including the death of her beloved 15-year-old dog, Barney – she quietly launched a small pet sitting/dog walking service and started thinking about leaving the steel industry for good.
So when she stumbled on the 100+ year old warehouse at North and Washtenaw, things quickly fell into place. The space had been recently vacated by The Barking Lot, so the build-out for a doggy daycare and boarding facility was already completed. Catherine took a leap of faith, quit her day job, cashed in her 401(k), and opened Canine Crews’ doors in January 2010.
“I knew nothing about West Bucktown,” admits the 12-year resident of Chicago’s Noble Square neighborhood.  “But I did my homework. I talked with neighbors and other area business owners, and I attended CPD Beat meetings to learn more about safety and gang activity in the area. I’ve seen huge improvements in the neighborhood in the three years we’ve been here. Some of my best customers are from West Bucktown – and many have become personal friends as well as clients.”
One of the things that sets Canine Crews apart from other doggy daycares in the city is Catherine’s laser-sharp focus on staff training. She tends to hire from the area, and is always on the lookout for the qualities of a great dog handler – namely patience, calmness, consistency, and a natural affinity for dogs.
“There is really very little regulation and oversight in the pet care industry,” Catherine admits. “But I require my employees to complete a comprehensive 16-module training program, we maintain a strict 15:1 dog-to-handler ratio, and we’re Pet First Aid/CPR certified through the American Red Cross. We’re all true dog lovers here, and it shows.”
IMAGE Catherine Crews and Carolos "Fu Man"The perks of being her own boss are numerous, but Catherine is quick to point out that the best part of owning Canine Crews is that it enables her to partner with two animal rescue organizations – One Tail at a Time and Alive Rescue. She offers free daycare and boarding to anyone who is currently fostering with either of these organizations, as well as a lifetime 10% off all Canine Crews services if you adopt from these rescues.

“I’m thrilled to be able to make a deeper impact on the rescue community,” says Catherine, who, in addition to her own Schipperke/Poodle/Pomeranian mix Carlos “Fu Man,” is also fostering a terrier mix named Tony. “Rescue work is my first love – it’s been so personally rewarding to me over the years that it’s great to be able to give something back.”

If you’d like to learn more about Canine Crews’ offerings – including daycare, boarding,  dog walking, petsitting, grooming, training and “dog bus” services – call (773) 235-1616 or email to arrange a tour.  

A Fairytale in Four Courses

IMAGE: Table, Donkey and StickOnce upon a time, in a land far off the beaten path of the typical Chicago dining scene, four weary West Bucktown travelers happened upon a cozy neighborhood restaurant with the curious name of Table, Donkey and Stick. With its Alpine-inspired décor of vintage axes, copper pots, and long wooden community tables, the rustic eatery (aptly named for a Brothers Grimm fairytale, as it turns out) lured the hungry travelers inside with the promise of savory meats, creamy cheeses, crusty breads, warm brandies, and other hearty fare.
Once seated, the travelers thought they’d died and gone to Deutschland! 

IMAGE: Dinner PlateOur hero, Chef Scott Manley, served up a special 4-course menu showcasing the seasonal beers of local brewer Pipeworks Brewing Company. Famished, the travelers devoured a veritable feast of smoked trout, roasted pork belly, and lamb loin, each paired with unique brews like Flower Child Berliner Weisse, Poivre Du Sichuan, and Murderous  Barleywine. And then, in classic fairytale happy-ending fashion, they reveled in a dark chocolate mousse with pink peppercorn macaron, egg yolk, and lemon balm accompanied by Pipeworks’ Raspberry Truffle Abduction.
IMAGE: Dinner PlateFully sated and drunk on the camaraderie of friendship, the travelers stumbled back out into the dark of night, vowing to gather again at Table, Donkey and Stick for another evening of bounteous sustenance, fellowship, and merriment.
And of course...they all lived happily ever after. The end!
Table, Donkey and Stick is located at 2728 W. Armitage, in the space that formerly housed Bonsoiree. Hours are weekdays from 5pm to midnight, Friday and Saturday from 5pm to 2am; closed Tuesdays. Click here for reservations; walk-ins welcome.

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Lucy Flower Fundraising
Kicks Into High Gear

It’s time to get serious, West Bucktown – reeeeeeeeally serious!

IMAGE: Lucy Flower Fundraising BannerAs we’ve previously reported, Lucy Flower Park has been approved for a makeover in 2013. While the bulk of funding is slated to come from the Chicago Park District and the generous support of 1st Ward Alderman Joe Moreno, the West Bucktown community is responsible for raising $70,000 of the total project cost. To date, we are still some $22,000 shy of meeting that goal – which means we’re in real jeopardy of not being able to break ground on a new park this summer.
We need everyone’s support to make up this shortfall – and fast! Here’s what you can do to help:
  1. Click here to make your tax-deductible donation today. Everyone who contributes $50 or more will be automatically included in the Lucy Flower “Seeds of Change” donor recognition program. And don’t forget to check if your employers offers a Charitable Giving Matching program – that can as much as double the impact of your own contribution.
  2. Make your mark on the park with the purchase of a personalized brick that will be woven into the new walkway at Lucy Flower. Two different sizes of bricks are available: 4” x 8” for $100, and 8” x 8” for $300. Use our new online order form to make your purchase quickly and easily! Only a limited number of personalized bricks are available, so don’t delay!
  3. Demonstrate an even bigger show of support for West Bucktown by sponsoring the installation of an 8-foot black metal bench for $5,000, including a special recognition bench honoring your generous donation.  Only two benches are available at Lucy Flower, so this is a great opportunity for businesses and residents alike to leave a unique and lasting legacy on our community.
  4. Do you work for or know of an area business that might be interested in contributing to our cause? Send us an email at and let us know. We welcome any opportunity to partner with local businesses, and we’ll move mountains to make sure that sizeable donations are properly recognized!
IMAGE: Lucy Flower playgroundThe challenge is on, West Bucktown! As we shift into final fundraising gear, the Chicago Park District has moved forward with drawing up the final designs plans for Lucy Flower – and they look fabulous! The plans will be unveiled to the public at the Maplewood and Lucy Flower Park Advisory Council monthly meeting on Wednesday, May 8 at 6:00 pm at the Maplewood Park field house. Everyone is welcome to attend to get a first-hand look at our pretty new park!

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Ask the Alderman
IMAGE: Alderman Joe Moreno
Question: Unwanted door hangers and handbills make up a huge chunk of the litter we see on West Bucktown's streets every day. Does the city have an ordinance that regulates the distribution of promotional materials on residential property? 
1st Ward Alderman Joe Moreno: I completely understand — and personally share — people's frustrations with unwanted handbills. Back in late 2007, my predecessor passed the city's Handbill Ordinance, but unfortunately, enforcement of this law has been am ongoing issue. Technically, Streets and Sanitation may issue citations to the distributors. But let's try to remember that these folks are typically paid a penny per paper, and in my opinion, it's not fair to cite them for something they don't necessarily understand is not allowed.
When the 1st Ward office receives a complaint or request from a constituent about this litter, my staff will call the newspaper and ask that a specific address be removed from their distribution list. The results of this effort have been patchy, at best. Soon, my staff and I will be meeting directly with reps from the Chicago Tribune and La Raza newspapers to try and get a better handle on this problem. 
For a copy of the city's handbill ordinance, please email

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The next issue of the WindowBox is tentatively scheduled for distribution in late Summer. 
If you have a story idea or would like to contribute an article, please email us at


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