(Editor?s note: This is one in a series of monthly stories taking a close-up look at neighborhoods in Petaluma.)
At times, residents of Rosamond Street, like other people around the globe, temporarily forget the names of neighboring families.
But these local residents have developed a way of quickly identifying such families without any contemplative effort.
?Around 16 of the 20 families on our street have dogs, so we identify each of them by their dog?s name,? said Barbara Ginsberg, who has lived with husband Alan in the Rosamond home of Carly, a Labrador-German Shepherd mix, for the past 15 years.
?It?s true, and many of us get to know each other better because of our dogs as we walk them,? said Elece Hempel, who has lived with husband Scott and son Adam in the home of Toby, a Bearded Collie, since 1995.
One of the residents ? Phyllis Silverstein, who lives in the home of Lily, a Terrier mix, on Rainier Circle ? even organized a birthday party for dogs at the home of George and Jean Gillmore.
In fact, dogs play such a revered role in the neighborhood that it is rumored residents inadvertently spell ?dog? backward when referring to one of the critters.
Some of the dogs on Rosamond and in other parts of the north Rainier Circle neighborhood moved there with their families as puppies and either have died or have reached their golden years.
?We moved in together,? said Lois Jenkins, referring to Nikki, a Border Collie and American Eskimo mix. ?She was 1 year old when we moved in 12 years ago.?
Similarly, many families in the neighborhood had children in the early-to-mid 1990s who grew up together while attending Sonoma Mountain Elementary School, and now are attending Kenilworth Junior High School and Casa Grande High School.
?There isn?t a kid here who doesn?t know other kids (in the neighborhood) and play with them,? said Bruce Lundquist, who has raised six children with wife Denise at their Almanor Street home during the past 14 years.
Lundquist and many other families moved to the neighborhood before the school was built.
?But a lot of people moved in because they were promised an elementary school, and it has proven to be a huge asset to the community. I?ve never seen a school with this kind of support from the community,? he said.
The kids, like the dogs, were instrumental in bringing the families closer.
?I think the neighbors are close because this was a new development, and the people moved in with similar aspirations,? said Nadine DeVost, who has lived on Rainier Circle since 1992. ?We came in as new families with an open spirit and forged a new neighborhood, and all the kids got to know each other.?
?Most of us moved in around the same time, and went through similar experiences in building the neighborhood. And a lot of us are still here,? Lundquist added.
As the neighborhood was growing in the 1990s, families on Rosamond and other streets rarely used their backyards.
?Just about everything in the neighborhood happened on the front porches,? Hempel said. ?The kids played there, and the houses all had swings. Some families later replaced their swings with chairs, though.?