Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Controversy Caused By Four-Legs and Two-Feet High in New York City!

There are three types of dog people in New York City. There are Dog Owners. There are Dog Lovers who haven't become owners due to time, financial, and/or housing restrictions. And, finally, there are Dog Haters.

I begin with the final group. The Dog Haters of New York City can, primarily, be identified by "The Transformation". One moment, they are just other figures sharing your sidewalk, moving briskly between appointments in their day. Yet, one glance at you and your companion, and they seem to be tripping across non-existent hot coals! This is accompanied by a look of disdain, which says, "Dogs? You dare corrupt by pristine concrete with the paws of that filthy beast?" This expression appears, be the pup Bernese or Peakenese, teeth-bearer or teddy bear, on the end of a leash or in your purse. To the Dog Haters, neither size nor snuggle matter. Your companion is simply a yapping and crapping machine and he or she is to be despised.

Next, we move on to the group to which I pay my membership dues: Dog Lovers who haven't become Dog Owners due to time, financial, and/or housing restrictions. Before you say, "Well, I don't have enough time either, but, I have a dog!" I reply, "'Time' in the sense of owning a dog in New York City warrants its own, special definition."

And it is: one's ability to construct a schedule conducive to 6AM risings, and in the case of certain breeds, ball throwing sessions, managing to be at your desk on time, dashing home in the less than an hour most NYC Employees are allotted for lunch, and passing on staying late to complete a project or participate in X after work activity (and there really is something to do in this City every night of the week, the gym aside, if you just seek it out) to tend to your pup's natural needs. Add to this, the countless New Yorkers whose days don't begin until noon, and you begin to understand how finding rhythm can be problematic.

But, again, I know, some of you will continue to insist that it can be done. To this, I now reply, "I guarantee that you are lucky enough to have or pay for one of the following: patient and working from home or nearby roommate or partner, childcare giver/dog walker or occasional Doggy Daycare, or Gentle Octopi." I was the first during my second year in the city; I got calls at least twice a week from my roommate. I am now that pup's official aunt! The second and third are among the Puppy Financial Restrictions. And the third definitely requires a definition!

The Gentle Octopi of New York City are its dog walkers. Characteristics of these caring souls include durable outerwear (particularly colorful Peruvian hats and made-to-be-trampled-on-and-easily-cleaned walking shoes), a beaming smile, and a minimum of six additional appendages, in a rainbow of canvas and those little clips that create that tinkle telling of a pup's approach. Naturally, the Gentle Octopi must be respectfully compensated for their time and dedication. After all, aren't they caring for your best friend, or in some cases, your 'child'? Sentiments expressed to me include, "my husband wants another child; I told him we can get a dog" or "we discussed adopting or getting a dog, and decided a dog better suited our lifestyle."

Finally, there is the housing issue. Contrary to "Sex and the City," and 75% of apartments portrayed in New York City set films, not all New York 20 and 30-somethings can afford copious one-bedrooms in Soho with walk-in closets! 6-Floor Walk-Ups, Shoebox Studios or Three-Way Splits in "Chelsea" or Brooklyn, some a half hour ride from one's job in Midtown Manhattan and you can forget any semblance of a backyard, are most of our initial realities! Into none of these situations do I consider it fair to bring in a dog! And, in many cases where you happen to have enough space, you are met with a big X next to "Pet Friendly" on your lease!

The final group, the Dog Owners, are the simplest to explain. This is a rare breed of human being who, in my opinion, really has it all: the time, the partner or money, and a happy and large enough home to welcome their beautiful bundle of choice. Members of this group are also fully aware of all of the issues faced by Group #2. In most cases, they have probably been members. Thus, to the thrill of Group #2's members, if you ask nicely and offer a big smile, the Dog Owners will happily allow you to stop them on the sidewalk and give their treasure a scruff.

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