OK, so I hate small dogs! I’ve hated them ever since I was viciously attacked by a rabid Jack Russel as a child. The memory of its snapping, drooling mouth wrapped around my Luke Skywalker action figure still smarts. As did my backside after my Aunty Joan belted me for using “the force” to boot the little F****r down the garden path.
I hate small dogs because they crap on the pavements, yap at your ankles and trip you up when you’re running for the bus. I hate them because according to Darwinian theory they should be overrun and eaten by rats, cats and automobiles. I hate them because they are usually owned by people with emotional issues, misanthropes who like to pretend their dogs are real people. I hate them because they are not proper dogs! So why didn’t anyone tell me before I moved here that New York is a Mecca for miniature canines!
The dog owners of New York love their dogs in a rather excessive way. Kind of like the Hindu reverence for the cow, but without the religion and with more accessories. Most would step over a homeless guy to check on the health of his dog. The dog is king, queen, well, God, in fact.
Visit a New York pet shop and you will find it more like a high class boutique or deli. There seems to be no end to the excess you can attain for your pet. The shelves are stuffed with everything you didn’t realize your pooch needed. From exercise machines to cup cakes, these outfits are definitely more than the bowl, brush, lead, chewy and tin opener outfits I’m used to. Some even have fancy dress departments. You will also notice, amongst the rhinestone collars and pet coats, an extensive range of travel luggage. Yes, travel luggage.
New York has very strict rules regarding pets in public buildings. Pets aren’t allowed in most apartment buildings and they certainly aren’t allowed in public or office buildings! Most restaurants have prominent signs stating “No Dogs”. But nobody appears to care. The lease we signed on our apartment stated quite clearly that the keeping of pets would be grounds for termination (of the lease that is, not the pet). Yet our concierge service offers a pet sitting service. Look closer at that luggage and you will notice all of it has breathable sides. Getting it yet? In New York small dogs don’t walk, they are carried! They travel incognito, hidden in suitcases and handbags, entering food establishments, office blocks, health centers and anywhere else their owners fancy, at will.
I personally believe a pet should be like a real fire, something you come home to. Unfortunately, in New York that kind of callous neglectful way of thinking doesn’t fly! How could you possibly leave your Chihuahua at home for hours on end with only the staff for company when he’s already dealing with the past life issues recently diagnosed by his doggy shrink! Not to mention the risk of his dietary requirements not being observed by the doggy sitter! No, you couldn’t possibly abandon your dog! If you love your pet, they should never leave your side; else they run off with the dog sitter, nanny, maid or a passing handsome squirrel.
My first experience of the dog gods was at a recruitment agency off Union Square. As a prospective new client, I was expecting to be greeted with a cup of coffee, the company ethos recanted verbatim and a false, yet comforting smile. What I got was a Puggle, a cross between a Beagle and a Pug for the uninitiated, who, after calmly trotting in, wandered across the reception, viewed me suspiciously before clamping his jaw firmly around my portfolio and beginning to tug, hard. He was rewarded by his owner (my recruiter) with a cookie!
That, unfortunately, is only the half of it. I have since had to work with the dog gods. In my midtown office of 60 to 70 people, there were, on a good day, about seven to ten miniature dogs of varying descriptions. That’s roughly one dog to 10 people. That’s better than the teachers to pupil ratio at most schools! They would prowl the corridors of the cube farm, hunting in packs looking for a squeaky toy or handbag to defile. They were everywhere! I would interrupt conference calls to apologize for their howling. I would carefully brush them aside in meetings in order to see my papers. I would try to ignore the smell of their “indiscretions”. When I did comment on their mess I was asked “what did you do to poor Tiddles, Pumpkin, David….” Yes, david. “You must have upset him, you horrible man”. I never complained as the dogs masters were my superiors and thus, the dogs were, in reality, my masters. I began to consider canineicide.
Wherever you walk in this city you will encounter someone walking an extremely small dog. On every street corner you can witness a proud owner watching admiringly as their little Chihuahua craps on the sidewalk. I have to say, the owners of these dogs are not exclusively Carrie Bradshaw types, although, generally, most have dogs that match their outfits.
Walking in the East Village the other day, I noticed a huge SUV replete with tinted windows and spinning hubcaps. It pulled up alongside me and from inside its cavernous interior stepped a huge black guy wearing more Bling than the Rockefeller Christmas tree. He stood on the sidewalk looking suitably disinterested before pulling gently on a leather lead. My first thought was dominatrix, but, of course, I was wrong. ‘Biggy’ leant inside the car and gently cradled something in his arms before depositing it ever so carefully on the sidewalk. It was a Pekingese sporting a fetching Diamante collar and leopardskin coat. I mean, what the F±*k ever happened to proper dogs; men’s dogs? Bill Sykes must be rolling in his grave. I’m thinking of buying myself a St Bernard, but I’m afraid I might forget it’s in my handbag and suffocate the poor thing.