It’s Time to Get Out and Explore

Meet the South Oakland couple who spent all of 2021 walking through all 90 Pittsburgh neighborhoods with their goldendoodle Chewie.
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Many of us have been spending a lot more time with our furry friends during the pandemic, as PM’s Associate Editor Sean Collier highlights this month in our Pittsburgh on Four Paws feature.

Thomas Strock and Erica Silvestri of South Oakland have taken it to the next level. They spent 2021 walking through all 90 Pittsburgh neighborhoods with their goldendoodle Chewie — turning an everyday activity into an adventure. You can view their journey at, an all-resources blog for owners of doodle breeds that Strock started as a hobby and now runs full time after being laid off from his marketing job during the pandemic.

Their exploration was motivated partly by the pandemic, partly by seeking mental stimulation for Chewie and partly by curiosity to see what all the neighborhoods had to offer, especially those off the beaten path.

“One of our favorite things we stumbled upon was in Perry South [also known as Perry Hilltop],” says Strock, 26. “They had a Negro League exhibit with baseball-card statues. It was on a random corner. I didn’t know it was there.”

They started their 90-neighborhood quest with a visit to East Hills and ended in St. Clair, next to the city’s border with Baldwin Borough.

Although Silvestri, 22, planned to start a job as a nurse, the couple hopes to continue their treks in 2022, possibly visiting all the city parks or some of the state parks. They’ve also considered getting Chewie, who turns 6 in February, trained to identify scents. “We have a few ideas” for Chewie, she says.

Strock and Silvestri are good role models for all of us. At least for me, going on treks with my 15-month-old dog Seamus helps me get through the cold and dreary, terrible, horrible, no good, very bad winter months — especially February, which always feels like the longest month of the year rather than the shortest. Since I have to get my dog out no matter what, I embrace the adage: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes.” I make sure to get to Costco each December to buy a box of 40 hand warmers, usually enough to last through April. My coats have hoods, I put traction cleats on my boots and a buff keeps my face warm.

No matter how cold and crummy it is, I find the walks invigorating; they boost my mood. They’re good for everyone, but even if you have mobility issues or worry about slipping on the ice, getting outside just to watch birds from your backyard or back deck can be uplifting. Pghmag Virginial Dsc 3971r

Like Strock and Silvestri, I plan to take my dog this winter to Pittsburgh neighborhoods or other communities we haven’t visited before. That will be good mental stimulation for my dog — and for me.

Virginia Linn can be reached at

Categories: Editor