The Rainbow Bridge
This page is dedicated
to Ernie, our inspiration for
The Off-Leash Dog Park at Oakwood Park.
Just this side of heaven is a place
called The Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet
goes to The Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those
who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember
them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss
someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and
looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers.
Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs
carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you
cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses
rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once
more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never
absent from your heart.
Then you cross The Rainbow Bridge together....
Together again, at last...
Donald Pickett, friend of the Dog Park
Oakwood Dog Park lost a good friend on February 24, 2010 when Don Pickett
died from complications following surgery. Everyone who visited
the dog park benefited from his efforts.
Don was responsible for much of
the maintenance at the dog park. He kept
the gates working; he cleaned the drain under the water "hydrant"
and called the city when the water stopped working; he put out
the poop bags; he kept an eye out on the park daily and sometimes more
than once a day. He took over the website when the webmaster moved
away. He even occasionally sent out listserv messages.
Visitors often saw Don as he went about his work or just sitting up in
the woods at the picnic table by the kiosk, sometimes with a huge black
and white Great Dane keeping him company. Tall and skinny with blue
eyes and a long blond/gray ponytail, he was more likely to be paying
attention to the dogs than the people, and dogs could tell he was
a soft touch if they wanted attention.
Thanks to the generosity of the people of the Dog Park, there is a picnic
table in Don's honor inside the park.
In his non-dog park life, he was employed in technical theatre. Over the
course of 4 decades, he served as a stagehand, technical director,
lighting designer, and master electrician. He was admired for
his intelligence, professionalism, and dedication to his craft.
Don was married to Helen Tart,
long-time supporter of the Dog Park. They
lived in the neighborhood near the park for 20 years. He enjoyed walking
their dogs around Historic Oakwood, Mordecai and other surrounding
neighborhoods. Over the years, those dogs were Giselle and
Blossom, English Bulldogs; Bert, American Bulldog and Ernie,
Ernie, beloved dog of Helen Tart and Don
For ten years, Ernie
relished nothing more than chasing squirrels in the park across the street
from his house. The squirrels in Oakwood Park will no longer have to worry
about Ernie chasing them. Ernie P. Tart passed away on 12-12-08. He received
a diagnosis of malignant melanoma on his tongue in September of this year.
This tumor can be shrunk via radiation but full remission does not happen
with this type of cancer. It could not be removed surgically because it was
on the tongue. The tumor continued to grow until he was no longer able to
drink water on his own. He was euthanized when that became apparent.
Ernie was the dog that inspired Helen Tart to
organize Friends of the Off Leash Dog Park at Oakwood Park. Her actions in
cooperation with the City of Raleigh Adopt-A-Park program, the neighbors and
Bill Hornsby resulted in the opening of the Off Leash Dog Park at Oakwood
Park. Ernie always had a fondness for the part of the park that was
eventually fenced in. Ernie was right by Helen’s side in June of 2006 at the
Grand Opening. He continued to be the unofficial “spokes dog” for the park
until his Death.
Ernie loved his walks all over Oakwood, Mordecai and
the surrounding areas. Ernie had friends all over the area that might not
know Helen or Don’s name but they always knew Ernie by name. Many will miss
him but his legacy will continue so long as Oakwood Dog Park exists.