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Memorial rises for Annie the dog, 'guardian' of L.A. neighborhood

July 18, 2012 |  9:46 am

Annie the dog
Candles, flowers and sympathy cards adorn a corner of 4th Street and Cochran Avenue for a dog who spent each day lying beneath a tree as a passing parade of Mid-Wilshire residents and workers went by.

For four years the husky mix spent time under the tree in front of an apartment house, greeting the dog-walkers, errand-runners and those simply out for an evening stroll. But Annie the dog died Saturday night when she was stung by a bee and went into anaphylactic shock.

“She just enjoyed watching the world go by,” said Brian Savage, an actor who lives nearby. “She never ran off, never barked at anyone. She was just a pillar of the neighborhood.”

She was more than that, said Michael Moravek, also an actor.

“Annie was really a touchstone for all of us,” Moravek said. “It was nice to have her here. We might not know each other but we all knew Annie.”

On Tuesday, Moravek placed a snapshot he had taken of her on the shrine.

“She was our neighborhood guardian. Even now, Annie is bringing us together.”

Six-year-old Roman DiGiulio walked to the shrine with his mother and placed a hand-printed note and a large red heart on the tree.

“Have a good life in heaven, sweet doggie,” the note read.

“I’ve known Annie for years,” Caroline DiGiulio said. “She was considered the neighborhood dog. She loved being outside and people loved seeing her.”

City Department of Water and Power worker Jon Fernandez, who regularly makes service calls in the Mid-Wilshire neighborhood, remembered being apprehensive when he first walked past the unchained husky three years ago.

“I was a little nervous. Dogs sometimes come after us. But she was very docile,” Fernandez said. “I saw her out here just last Saturday.”

Casting director Michael McCaskey also remembered seeing Annie in her usual spot on Saturday.

“She was such a friendly dog. Everybody loved her,” he said.

Annie’s owner, Jack Zurla, said he was moved by those who have contributed to the impromptu memorial. He said he rescued Annie 12 years ago when he found the abandoned puppy foraging for food near the corner of Washington Boulevard and La Brea Avenue.

“I’ll remember Annie as a dog that was more human than dog. She had the capacity to understand people. She was a dog of compassion for everybody. She gave people comfort,” said Zurla, a representative for a designer glass and wrought iron company.

Zurla said people have stood crying in front of Annie’s shrine.

“Annie was a staple in a lot of lives around here,” he said. “Annie was always ready to give someone some love.”

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-- Bob Pool in Mid-Wilshire

Photo: Jack Zurla tries to contain his emotions Tuesday while talking about his dog Annie, who passed away Saturday after a bee sting. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times.

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