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Andy Ostroy Headshot

Some Tough Love for Dog Owners

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Let me first say that I am the proud owner of the most adorable German Shepard/Rottweiler mix. Priscilla is 10-years-old (or the cutest 70-year-old, depending on your choice of math) and sweet as pie. Two years ago I had to put down my Yellow Lab Elvis Pawsley (yes, I guess that makes me Colonel Tom). I've had dogs my whole life, including Ralph and Barney. I'm a dog lover. What I don't love is most dog owners. Living in a big, densely populated city like New York requires a certain level of consideration for others, yet it is dog owners who are some of the biggest violators.

Dog owners are just like parents of small children. In fact to them, their dog is their child. Instead of playgrounds they go to dog parks and stand around with other dog owners and talk about their "kids" the same as parents do. They ask meaningless questions like "What's her name?" How old is she!? "Did ya get him from a breeder?," as if they really care. I mean, do they really care if Buster is 6 and hails from Beacon, NY? And they believe that we think everything their dog does is utterly fascinating, just as parents think everything their kid does is mind-numbingly interesting. "Hey, wasn't that awesome how my kid just punched your kid in the face!?" Um, not really....

But I really don't mind any of that behavior, no matter how odd it may be. What I do mind is when, outside of a dog run, owners act as if their dog can do anything it wants, anywhere it wants, and we're still supposed to think it's phenomenal. So to enlighten you dog owners who remain clueless as to how to behave amidst your fellow New Yorkers, here's a few tips:

1. Please don't let Oscar piss on the sidewalk three feet from my table at an outdoor cafe. I know your pooch's urine has an incredibly artistic yellowishness to it, and the muscle definition when he lifts his leg is Shwarzenegger-like, but I'm eating my freakin' lunch and don't want to see it. Any of it. Same goes for pooping. News flash: merely picking up your dog's crap doesn't mean you haven't left behind a nice little sidewalk souvenir for the rest of us. Walk past the cafe next time and then let your dog relieve himself.

2. Please curb your dog, or at least walk on the edge of the sidewalk closest to the street. It never ceases to amaze me how people walk down the middle of the sidewalk with their dog and then it urinates or poops right there as people almost step in it. The city's streets are filthy enough. We don't want animal waste on the bottom of our or our kids' shoes, on the wheels of our kids' strollers, shopping carts and bikes.

3. Please keep your dog on a leash. We all know you're the Dog Whisperer and deserve major props for training your dog to wander down Broadway untethered, but there's lots of little kids who are terrified of dogs. And besides, it's against the law.

4. Please be mindful of where your dog is going when you use one of those 20-foot extension leashes. I almost tripped and cracked my skull the other day when your little buddy's leash got wrapped around my legs when he was doing his sidewalk gymnastics.

5. I don't mind you bringing your dog to sit with you at any outdoor cafe. But, if he's gonna yap and scream like a toddler, then please leave. If I wanted to eat my pancakes while dogs bark their heads off I'd go to a kennel. News flash: your dog's not cute when he yelps non-stop. He's annoying.

6. I am not amused when your horny Dominique Strauss-Kahn of a beast mounts and humps my Priscilla. When you see that look on my dog's face like "This ain't consensual," that would be a great time to yank him off her.