Dude Downed in Berkeley’s People’s Park

by Steed Dropout
July 25, 2012

Berkeley, Ca.


Dude had been shot in the shoulder and back; according to nearby witnesses who rushed to the scene after hearing the shots.

His dead carcass was removed by a university refuge-removal truck.

It was a grim end to a love story between Dude, a six-month old Shepard-mix puppy and Berkeley’s People’s Park, where he was known as “the sweetest dog in the park.”

The story began in San Francisco’s Golden Gate park where Dude and his new owner met and hit it off. Gus decided then and there to “adopt” the dog from a litter, for his side kick.

Just a boy and a girl and their dogs on Berkeley's Telegraph Ave, People's Park's living room. Photo by Ted Friedman.

The new friends snuck out by night from Golden Gate Park, which Gus considered too dangerous for man or beast; the cold thick fog of a San Francisco summer blanketed their escape. They headed for Berkeley, about which they had heard good things — of great free food, and generous students.

Everything Gus had heard was true and then some. And Berkeley was warm and sunny. Just right for a pup. The ambience was golden, like Dude’s coat. Dude and Gus were like most tramps and their dogs, who rely on each other for companionship and protection.

The cop was just doing his job, making a routine back-and-forth sideways sweep of Berkeley’s People’s Park around midnight, three hours after curfew. On-lookers sleeping alongside an historic church across the street from Camp Hate in the park, could see the curly tails of light from the cop’s flashlight as he swept back and forth.

There are, at any given time, ten dogs frisking in the 2.8 acre paradise known as Berkeley’s People’s Park. The world has many people’s parks, but Berkeley’s is best known as a sixties riot that got out of hand.

Although chain whippings, fist fights, and property theft are common, there has not been a murder in the park for four years, and that murder was an anomaly. The park may not have fulfilled its peace-and love expectations, nor is it a war-zone today.

Dude was seen as a “peacemaker.”


The cop shined his flashlight on a lump of a sleeping man near a drainage pipe and picnic table near the famous People’s Park (Forever) stage. The location is in the heart of the drug-dealing West end, but was deserted post-curfew.

In Peace Grove, Berkeley's People's Park, yesterday. Park dog-owners are all, who's dog will be next - Aquarius or Silver? Photo by Ted Friedman.

The cop noticed that the curfew-scofflaw was out in the open with no sleeping bag. And then his light picked up the dog, who was unleashed. There had been no leash citations for years, ever since cops cracked down.

The cop could smell alcohol, as he tried unsuccessfully to rouse Gus, who was dead to the world. The cop, vainly asked Gus to restrain Dude, who was aroused by the cop’s flashlight.

As an ear-witness described it, there was a “bark-bark-bang-bang.”

Dude lunged at the officer, fangs bared, and was killed mid-bark, according to ear-witnesses, near-by.

When Gus came to he was so groggy he at first didn’t know what had happened. Then he tried to talk to those who had rushed over from a half-block away, but his sobs muffled his words.

“The cop just came over and killed my dog,” he stammered.

The officer who killed the dog was back in the park the next day to arrest one of the ear-witnesses. He refused an offer to take leave.

People's Park 'companion'dog' doubling as watch dog. What exterminating cop would have seen the night of the killing, except that Dude was not leashed, and Dude's owner was not in a sleeping bag. Photo by Ted Friedman.

Gus was panhandling and in a seemingly good, if alcoholic, mood the next day, as he sat on Telegraph Avenue with his buddies, dangling a cup on a string, and hauling out a toy horseshoe to fashion a concessionaire’s game.

But when the grief and depression of once more finding himself alone on the road sunk in, he gathered up his pissant possessions and hit the road. Maybe, he thought, he could find another puppy to ease his anguish.

But he knew he’d never find such a loyal friend as Dude, who gave his life defending him.

Dropout: “no comment, dammit; can’t you see I’m crying? You ef-ing reporters are all the same, a bunch of self-serving predators.”

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