Mary Leugers, and "Rags" talk to children during a recent Holiday Family Celebration, at Olander Park.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Season's Greetings. After checking out some photographs of Rags, the wonder dog, who was being held in the arms of Mary Leugers during a seasonal program the other day at Olander Park, I was curious. Just who is this popular pooch? Children seem absolutely enthralled with him, I noticed. So, I asked some questions, and Rags was kind enough to reply. After receiving his warm letter, I certainly can see why people are drawn to the furry fellow. By the way, the "cute girl" in the reply below was Amy Voigt, the Blade photographer; she took the photo of Rags displayed here. Enjoy. -- Janet Romaker, Ourtowns Editor
Learn more about Rags and Mary Leugers who have been featured at various programs at schools, the Sylvania Public Library, and Olander Park in the Sylvania community.
Question: Could you please share some details about your name? Did someone take a cotton to it and it stuck? You get to spend lots of time at Olander Park; you could have been called Lucky. Let's tell folks about your background...are you from this area? Do you have a family? We know a lot of dogs named "Socks." Are you kinfolk?
Answer: I received your e-mail. You must be the cute girl with the camera I saw at Olander Park on Sunday. I notice all the pretty girls. You know I am a boy. I am from Sylvania and live with Mary and Greg Leugers. I know a dog called "Foxy" that visits the Leugers and spends the night but I don't know any dogs named "Socks." I sometimes like to steal my owners socks and chew them.
Q: Who is the nice lady we often see you with when you are entertaining children at Olander Park? Tell us about her. Fill us in a bit on when you became tied to the various programs at the park. How long have you been doing this gig? Why do you do what you do? Are you like, considered the park's unofficial or official pooch mascot? What exactly is your role and why?
A: I started working with children at the Sylvania Public Library. Mrs. Leugers, a children's librarian had me as her story time mascot. I would talk with the kids before story time and give them kisses before they left. As the children got older they often asked to see me. Mrs. Leugers started taking me to the local Kindergarten classes when she visited them. Mrs. G (Sandy Gratop) and Mary Leugers started doing co-op programs around nature themes while she still worked at the library. When Mary retired after 37 years in January of 2010 Sandy asked her to do a story time with the tots and a story time with the Nurturing Nature group. Of course, I got to go too. The little kids love getting kisses and they like to hear what I am up to. It is usually no good. Since Christmas is coming I am trying to mend my ways. No stealing cookies and treats, no running in the house, no loud barking and no jumping on the furniture. When the Leugers are gone I sometimes do it. Do you think the elves are watching me 24/7? I hope not. Mary has a time- out box for me and I hate it! But at programs there is usually food so I get plenty of snacks and I behave.
Q: What's your favorite place at Olander? Do you chase those pesky geese that, um, leave their droppings along the lakeshore? Does anyone let you dig holes for all of those native plants that dot the area?
A: I'm not allowed to run around at Olander. I have to stay indoors. No dogs allowed…whoever thought up that rule? Therefore, I can't chase those pesky geese. Mary tells me to be kind to all creatures. I do like cats. I am not crazy about other dogs.
Q: Do you work for dog biscuits or a nice gentle wash, followed by the rinse and fluff cycles? Children seem to be particularly interested in learning nature lessons when you spend time with the youngsters. What is your secret? You apparently like to work some nights and weekends. What do you do during your off-hours?
A: The Olander ladies are getting a program together that is starting on January 20th with a puppet show. Just like last year, Reader's Theater kick-off for stage presentation is slated for the spring. I’ll be with Mrs. Leugers for these activities.
Q: You must really like Sylvania, what with all of the trees. In 25 words or less, describe the best features about the community.
A: Sylvania is a wonderful city. I love living here and taking walks in the morning and evening. People are always nice to me and say I am soft and cuddly. There are plenty of trees and fireplugs to sniff. Every so often I find a scrap of food someone dropped and I gobble it up before Mary sees it. I love when it snows and there are big piles of it for me to spread eagle on top of. Sylvan Prairie is where we hike as a family and we have gone star gazing there too. In the winter we go zooming down Suicide Hill across from St. Joe Church. That is fun, fun, fun! I feel the cool air on my face and my ears fly back. I hope I answered all your questions. Until we meet again Janet.