Monday, May 27, 2013
SAN DIEGO At the end of her driveway, Janet Mika stands next to a life-sized statue of a rotweiler that's blanketed in a camoflauge tent and surrounded by American flags.
Most cars whip up and down the busy Del Cerro road of Madra Avenue. But at the top of the hill, there's a sight that has 'em hitting the brakes.
"This is Madra Dog, he lives at the foot of my driveway and welcomes visitors and friends and folks," she says.
Maybe you've never heard of the Madra Dog, but if you live near the Del Cerro neighborhood, you know exactly what owner Mika's talking about. In fact, Mdra Dog is kind of the talk of the town.
"I was at a party once and someone came over and said, 'You have the Madra Dog, right?' And I said, 'Yes,' and she goes, 'I was down at the grocery store and people were talking about the Madra dog.' She goes, 'I went to my hairstylist – they were talking about the Madra Dog," Mika says.
Named after the street Mika lives on, the statue has become a staple in the neighborhood. A Passer by pauses to tell Mika that she looks forward to driving past Madra Dog each morning.
But Madra Dog actually started out as a blank slate – it was unpainted when Mika picked him up at a nursery in Jamul, and figured it was a golden retriever. Having raised a few goldens in her time –– and collecting a few statues of the breed –– Mika brought it home for a welcome at the end of her driveway. But her brother pointed out it was actually a rotweiler.
"And I went, 'Oh! Well there goes my welcome in the driveway, OK, it's more like we're guarding the driveway,'" she says.
But last August, that guard dog was the perfect welcome. Janet was hosting a party and stuck a party hat on his head to direct visitors to the correct home.
"And it was like, 'Oh, that's funny,'" she says.
Soon, the statue was donning San Diego sports jerseys on game days. That's when Madra Dog really took off.
"One day, I didn't get the Aztec jersey on – cause it was a busy day – and so the next day somebody stopped right here in the middle of the street and said, 'You didn't put his Aztec jersey on yesterday, we're lucky that we still won.' And so, I realized this is bigger than I thought," she says, laughing.
Madra Dog even has his own Facebook page with more than 300 likes. But what started out as funny took a serious turn last month after the bombings at the Boston Marathon. Madra Dog was outfitted in white tee with the Boston Red Sox "B." Next to him was a sign that read "Boston Strong."
"And people really reacted to that. They really were like, 'Yeah, Boston Strong. We're with ya,'" she says.
The costumes are sometimes meant to make a statement or just give passersby a laugh, but Mika says it's kind of brought the community closer together.
"I've met a lot of people that just stop and introduce themselves, introduce their kids and everything, she says. "And I think it's kind of warmed up the whole neighborhood."
And now she says, the pressure's on.
"This came out of nowhere and it's kind of grown into a big hobby. I don't want to let the people down, ya know, they keep asking, 'What's next? What's next?'"
Janet said she's already got June planned out, but she's careful to keep it a surprise.