By Robin Cohn
While standing at the corner of West 71st Street and Broadway, I watched a big dog trying to lunge into traffic. As his owner tugged back, she told him, “No, we’re not taking a cab, we’re walking home.”
New York City dogs are a different breed (pardon the pun). Chalk it down to a city lifestyle and street savvy. Yes, on certain levels, dogs are just, well, dogs. But life experiences greatly differ. For example, city dogs don’t go bonkers when they hear ambulance sirens.
In the city, the dogs have parks, streets, Ubers, and subways. We tend to think every dog loves the park. But there are those who lift their tiny noses or big snouts at the very idea. My next-door-dog Gussie doesn’t like grass. Never a blade shall feel her dainty paw. Instead, she enjoys taking her doggie mom for a walk on Columbus Avenue. She — the dog, not the mom — has an angle. On hot days, as soon as she spies an open store door she runs in and plops down. Same on cold days.
Another dog I know likes going to the Apple Store on West 67th Street. His doggie dad says he’s given up trying to take him elsewhere. He likes looking in the windows — the dog, not the dad — although the dad doesn’t mind. I wondered why until I saw the border collie in the photo above using a window as a mirror. Not sure if he’s admiring his reflection or looking at the doggie in the window. Then again, the Apple-visit dog might just like looking at iPhones.
The expression “let sleeping dogs lie” is a mantra for some pooches. My building’s favorite dog walker wakes some of his charges who, like their owners, like to sleep late. Before taking my morning walk, it’s fun to watch the slow-motion action of getting dogs ready to roll. Ever the actress, neighbor Gussie leans dramatically against the wall while waiting for the elevator. Once on, she and most of her little dog group stand dozing, some snoring. Reaching the lobby, they look around as if they’ve never seen it. I’m not making this up.
Listening to doggie parents is a treat. I heard a woman tell her friend she was trying to explain economics to her dog so he’d understand the price of Kibbles. Another time, I saw a dog in a bright red sweater, his head down, clearly embarrassed. His doggie mom said, “See. I told you other puppies would be wearing sweaters.” A man and dog were watching a group of dogs playing. He urged his dog to play with them, noting encouragingly, “they seem nice.” And many doggie parents point out their dog’s friends when they arrive. “Look who’s here. Clive!” they exclaim. As if their dogs don’t know. While there are many fun dog names, one of my favorites: Remington Schwartz.
They say music has charms to soothe the savage beast. The same could be said for a dog’s effect on people. I got on the subway today and people were smiling instead of staring at their phones. Why? Two very cute dogs were in the car. They, in turn, were looking at the people with interest. Last fall, when dogs were going to a Halloween parade all dressed up, the subway cars were filled with laughter.
My apologies to all the West Side dogs for not including a wealth of their stories. There must be tons. I’m sure I’m not alone in smiling as the dogs nonchalantly trot on sidewalks with tails wagging, taking in the sights and sniffing. Then there are the park antics before the 9 a.m. leash law. And I get a kick out of the ones racing out of their buildings in the mornings to reach the park just in time. Know the feeling.
Wherever they live, dogs bring us happiness. They certainly brighten my West Side days. Yes, there are wonderful cats. But they stay inside so I rarely see them in kitty action. I don’t own a dog so watching and playing with them is the next best thing. Love their city attitude.
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