I'm no Cesar Millan with his dog whispering ways. Neither am I doggy Mary Poppins Victoria Stilwell, who only needs to "tsk, tsk" to get a dog to behave. I'm certainly no Justin Silver (did anyone else watch this summer's Dogs in the City other than, well, me?). I'm just a girl who, after stalking the small dog run in Carl Schurz Park, said to her boyfriend, "Can we get a puppy? Oh please, oh please, how hard can a small dog be in the city?"
One rescue dog and another puppy later, the stars are gone, but the furry love is as strong as ever. Older, wiser, and many, many chewed shoes later, here are 7 Important Things I Learned About Owning A Dog in NYC.
1. The Island Of Manhattan Is One Enormous Dog Toilet
Perhaps you, like I, were one of those who thought for the number of people living in NYC, it's a relatively clean city. Then I got a dog. Suddenly, my eyes were opened. The sidewalk became a gray battlefield littered with smooshy brown landmines that were somehow not defused and thrown into the trash. What's worse, they took on various forms. Sometimes, they were enormous round cannonballs. Sometimes, they were camouflaged in colorful plastic bags. Sometimes, they were smeared like chocolate icing -- except they weren't chocolate icing, no matter how many times my dogs tried to lick them. Sometimes, I would even catch other dog owners depositing these weapons of massive stink into our building's trashcan. The romance of the Big Apple quickly wore off when I realized to my dogs, NYC is a huge porcelain throne -- and I'm the flusher.
2. You Get To Know Dogs, But You Forget Their Owners
You know how embarrassing it is when you meet someone you know, and all you can say is, "Hey... You!" because you've forgotten their name? That feeling is nothing compared to running into your neighbor in the hall and greeting them with, "Hi... Human! Where's Friday, Your Jack Russell Terrier?"
3. Dog Parks Are High School 2.0
There are the hipsters who chill in a corner with their wool caps and rescue mixes. There are the cheerleaders with their mini doodleyorkypoochiteses. There are the tough guys, walking around with their brachycephalics. There are the jocks, with their hyper [insert active/large breed here]. There are the weird, AP class-taking terrier owners. Then there's everybody else. Everyone has a clique. Everyone has his or her frenemies. Everyone wants someone else banned from the park because they humped/barked at/nipped/yelled at their baby. As for the dogs, they too have their own social divisions: those who sniff butts, and those whose butts are being sniffed.
4. Small Dog Runs Are Often De-Facto Children's Playgrounds
I overheard a woman saying to someone yesterday, "No, I don't have a dog in here. Just a child. This place is so much more fun for them than the playground, don't you think?" I decided then that one day I will bring my dog into the children's playground and say, "Oh, I don't have a child in here. Just a dog. This playground is so much more fun for dogs than the run, don't you think?"
5. Bicycles Are Evil
So are skateboards. Rollerblades. Handcarts. Wheelchairs. As for scooters, well, they are demons disguised as innocent children motoring devices. Only dogs can see past their clever ruse for the devils that they are.
6. People Do Things To Your Dog They Would Get Arrested For Doing To You
This includes but is not limited to: random, unasked for touching, making kissy, wet noises, actual kissing, talking to in a baby voice, whistling, taking pictures, snapping at, stepping on, and allowing their children to run up and grab inappropriately without supervision.
7. The Sidewalk Is An All You Can Eat Dog Buffet
I understand dropped candy or pizza crusts being delicious. I even understand gross, wiped on napkins smears or bones. These are all food. I do not understand how sticks, rocks, poop, plastic, sewage rot, old gum, or any other disgusting detritus that graces the sidewalk of Manhattan is in any way appetizing. My dogs, on the other hand, are delighted with anything they find on the ground -- so delighted they immediately shove it into their mouths. Evidently you need a tail to understand the appeal of the fine delicacy gutter-goop.
Clearly, there are undiscovered sides to New York that a girl can't understand until she owns a dog. Oh well. I would conclude this post with something wise in the way of urbanites and canines, but my six-month old puppy is sitting on the doormat. That means only one thing: time to be the human flusher again.