Eco-Dog Unleashed

Eco-Dog is one long, tall drink of water. It is long on innovation in answer to a tall order: design and build an ecological, sustainable, solar-powered, rainwater-catchment, bio-filtered water fountain for dogs.

Created by the dynamic Norfolk-based teaching-artist duo of Nicole Harp and Knox Garvin, Eco-Dog is not only green and functional but is a stylish addition to the streetscape at 1917 Colley Ave. in Ghent, former home of the Donut Dinette; now, fortuitously, the Little Dog Diner. A little bit functional sculpture and a little bit planter, this canine watering station is a lot hip with an industrial-organic aesthetic that is both contemporary and timeless.

About a year ago, the Norfolk Cultural Arts Commission awarded Harp and Garvin a grant to launch Citizen Artist Norfolk—with sculpture, video, and website components—during Arts Week with the goal of providing citizens a forum in which they could float their best and brightest ideas for building a better Norfolk.

Wanting to follow through by bringing at least one proposed idea to fruition in time for this year’s Arts Week, the pair chose Eco-Dog, proposed by Leana Stormont. Not only did it seem the most feasible, but it combined into one concept three of Harp’s and Garvin’s passions: community, sustainability, and love for animals.

eco dog ghent eco dog ghent

With help from some talented designers at Makerspace and $2,000 in the bank after Harp’s successful efforts among residents and area businesses to raise funds for materials to build the prototype, Eco-Dog took shape. The result, which emerged through a collaborative design-as-you-go process, directs rainwater from the Little Dog Diner into a container constructed with reclaimed and sustainable materials. A planter system then purifies the water with the help of a solar-powered pump and a series of gravel filters, activated carbon and the living roots of some lush plants. Over four months, Garvin and Harp cast concrete molds, laid mosaic tiles, pulled apart pallets and constructed the first of, hopefully, many Eco-Dogs.

Sustainable? Handsome? Eco- and dog-friendly? We’ll drink to that.

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