Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Dogs in New York

I don't have photographic evidence to support this, but it's not an original revelation. I was pleasantly surprised this weekend to see how welcome dogs are in public indoor places in New York City -- and how well behaved those dogs are.

I first noticed two dogs indoors in the lobby of a major shopping area in an office building near Central Park. They were just standing with their owners, waiting.

A few hours later, I was in a shoe store in Union Square and I heard a quick, single bark. I looked, and an aisle over was a cute little thing, well-behaved except for that one outburst. Nobody seemed to mind that the dog was in the shoe store.

Even later, I was in a bar in Greenwich Village, and I noticed a pug wandering around greeting people. Then I looked up and noticed a bichon frieze with its head ON the bar, and another bichon sitting ON a chair. All perfectly normal. Nobody seemed to mind.

Then I really started to notice the dogs. Small ones in arms on trips up escalator, larger ones resting under outdoor dining tables. Remarkable.

Now, I'm sure there are dogs that aren't so well socialized. I'm sure that accidents happen and sometimes businesses regret allowing their patrons to bring the dogs in. But I thought it was nice to see them so welcome. (I wish my dogs were welcome so many places here in my Chicago suburb, not that I'd bring my dogs to many, if any, indoor public places except the pet store -- their tails would cost me a fortune in breakage!)

Now let me juxtaposition all the well-mannered dogs I saw with a few ill-mannered people. While we were picnicking on the lawn in Central Park that very same day, there were many families around us. A few times I thought I saw parents bring their children behind a large rock or tree so they could urinate. In a public park. Not ten feet from where I was eating. And not too long a walk to an actual bathroom. I understand that emergencies happen with children, but really, in an area where thousands of people are running around barefoot, sitting on the ground and picnicking?

Funny thing was, I know they were there, but I don't remember seeing a lot of dogs in the park that day.

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