Meet a Southbank neighbour ...

I met Pollyanna Manlio and her 18-month-old Siberian Husky Jasper at the new dog park beneath Kings Way. The two make a striking pair who exude a sense of joy and positivity.

In fact, when Polly went home to tell her partner, Houston, that she was approached for this story, he had to laugh. Just weeks prior, Channel Nine News anchor Peter Hitchener and his TV crew were driving past and stopped to say ‘hello’. “He really loves animals and had all sorts of questions about Jasper,” Polly recalled.

Polly and her partner Houston, who works for Melbourne Storm Rugby League, both grew up in Melbourne and have lived in Southbank for the past four years. Polly is recruiter in the construction industry, something she fell into after getting a degree in accounting and finance from La Trobe University. Experiencing her calm, professional demeanor over coffee at A Treat of France on City Rd, I can see why she is successful at her profession. “It’s about relationships, building trust and being very thorough,” she explained. The two love Southbank for its proximity to the CBD and great food, with the Waterfront Southgate at the top of their list. “The seafood there is so good,” she said dreamily.

Not surprisingly, Polly’s favourite thing to do outside of work is to spend time with Jasper  and the new Kings Way dog park has been a big game changer. “We used to have to make the 35-minute walk to the grassy area in Docklands for Jasper to socialise with other dogs. On some days we wouldn’t get home for dinner until 8pm or wouldn’t be able to make it over there at all.” Now, she and Jasper visit the dog park, just down the street from her apartment, three times a day. “The dog park is the only enclosed off-leash area within walking distance and having a fresh water bowl is really important—Jasper drinks a lot of water.” Polly pointed out that there were no dog drinking stations along the entire stretch of Yarra River east of Docklands. “It’s actually really an issue for us.”

The dog park has improved her quality of life too. “It’s been great to get to know the other dog owners and their dogs and recognise them out and about in the neighbourhood.” So much so that she has started Instagram and Facebook communities, Paws of Southbank, for dog owners to connect and celebrate their pets. “I’ve always wanted to start a Foundation,” she shared. She’s been inspired by the Dogs of Docklands group that holds social events to fundraise for dog wellness causes. For now, she’s focused on enjoying Jasper, the new dog park and making new friends. “I love living in Southbank and feel very safe here.” •

 

MaryKay Rauma is a founder and communications chair of Southbank3006 – a not-for-profit community and advocacy group focused on connecting residents and improving the liveability of Southbank. Southbank residents can join for free at southbank3006.com

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