Monday, November 24, 2014

Where the Dead Meet the Dogs in DC

It is jarring the first time you see a dachshund lower its haunches and poo right next to a tombstone. Some people say it's disrespectful. Others say the dogs saved Washington, DC's Congressional Cemetery.

Founded in 1807, the burial ground had become a forlorn place of crack deals and toppled monuments by the 1990s. But then a group of locals had an idea: turn the graveyard into a members-only dog park, and use the fees to restore the site.

It's now a lovely spot to ramble, and the cemetery has done a fab job documenting the dead. Pick up maps at the entrance to find famed civil rights heroes, global explorers, beer brewers, War of 1812 officers, and loads of other people you should know. Favorite spirits to seek out:

* Mathew Brady: The Civil War photographer is known as the father of photojournalism. He took the picture of Lincoln that's now on the $5 bill.

* Belva Lockwood: She ran for US president in 1884 as the Equal Rights Party's candidate. Yes, she was aware women didn't have voting rights at the time. She still got 4000 votes.

* J Edgar Hoover: The infamous FBI director has a grave that's surrounded by a fence and faces DC's jail.

Just watch out for loping black labs, stick-chasing Yorkies and other members of the K9 Corps patrolling the stony rows. Incidentally, it's a year-long waiting list to join the pack.

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