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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Who Let the Dogs Out? Their Owners in My Book.

I've been wanting to hit on this for a few days now.

One of my blog buddies - and now personal friends - recently gave me this real scenario: Two good friends recently move to the Big Apple to fulfill youthful and professional dreams. Once there they hook up with a third person, and the three become roommates.

Two of the three own dogs, one of the old friends and the third, new roommie. If you know NY, you know maintaining a dog can require Herculean effort.

Few folks in the city have yards in which to let their dogs run free. And taking the dog out to handle his business is not as simple as opening the back door and letting him run outside. It can mean trekking 10 or 20 flights of stairs from in some oldschool walkup apartment building. Who wants to do that at 3 a.m. when the pooch is whining for a bathroom break. Even if you have an elevator, who wants to make that journey in the middle of the night so you can find a telephone pole or fire hydrant for the dog?

One of the dog-owner roommates recently had a change of schedule - work or school, I can't remember.

So that roommate tells the roommate who is NOT a dog owner that for the foreseable future, the non-dog owner roommate was going to have to let the other roomie's dog out to accomodate that person's new sked. I hope that makes sense.

The non-dog owner roomie wasn't sure how to respond. My blog friend told the non-dog owner roomie to be firm and stand ground and point out that if you choose to own a pet you willingly take on extra responsibilities. And you can't just dump those responsibilities on someone else 'cause you develop new priorities.

My friend was much nicer than me. The dog-owner roommate didn't even ask. The person just told the non-dog owner that they would have to step up and help out. I might have just said "no!"

If I'm the non-dog owner, do I have to start adjusting my life 'cause you adjusted yours? If so, then your new job/school sked is affecting us both. And I should be sharing in the benefits from it.

Your thoughts?


  • Presumably the room mates are friends, & even the NDO likes dogs (or were they that desperate for accommodation)?

    In which case there are things you will do for friends (& dogs) which you mightn't do for other people. Even if they involve 20-30 floorsworth of stairs. Hey, at least with all that climbing you don't also need to take the pooch for a walk!

    Or does the New York definition of 'friendship' not extend to actually putting yourself out for your friends? Or taking the dog out for that matter?

    Mind you, the dog owner with the new schedule should have asked.

    By Anonymous Bronchitikat, at 2:44 AM  

  • Come to think of it, an extra 20-30 flights of stairs several times per day would do wonders for your cardiac exercise programme, & just think what you could save on gym fees!

    Go take the dog out, James!

    By Anonymous Bronchitikat, at 2:46 AM  

  • Actually, the dog owner who told the non-dog owner that she would "have to" take care of the dog in her absence only met her 3 weeks ago.

    The NDO and DO ended up living together through the third roommate, who is friends with NDO and also went to school with DO. The three agreed to live together to share expenses.

    By Blogger Tere, at 9:29 AM  

  • NDO is right. Owning a pet is a huge responsibility and, as you pointed out, city pets are an even bigger hassle. This sounds like time for a flight cage. I roomed with a DO and I never took that mutt out once. Wasn't mine. I never got a say in getting the dog (which, even though we lived in the burbs, would have been no effing way). I'm a firm believer that pet owners who cage their animals all day in their place are sadists. Does the amount of enjoyment the dog gives you equal or outweigh the mental stress you put the dog through? I realize that many DO's regard their pet as family, but no non-sadistic family member imprisons another (eventually, children are let out). If the dog is family, then your living choice should give the dog some room. More than likely, the dog is either an accessory (look how cute he is with this skirt or he helps me pick up chick) or a substitute for human interaction. Either way, it's selfish of you toward the animal. And don't give me that crap about how the dog wouldn't be alive if you didn't take it in or how you're rescuing it from a life of mange and garbage--any reason for keepoing another animal in a cage is an exrcise in your own superiority and selfishness. In time, the dog does grow to need you and vice versa, but couldn't this be a more mutual arrangement? (I'm thinking Two Socks from Dances With Wolves here). It's not like the dog is helping you hunt and the barking from every passerby the dog thinks is intruding ain't too cool to wake up from at 5 am. Neither is a whining "I need to go pee" dog.
    If you want an indoor pet, go for a snake--or fish. At least you don't perceive them as being sentient.

    By Anonymous Big Daddy, at 2:00 PM  

  • This seems like a total imposition. It's one thing to ask for a favor now and then ... but this is not cool.

    By Blogger Manola Blablablanik, at 9:12 PM  

  • Big daddy, crating a dog really isn't a bad thing. Dogs needs to feel safe and secure and tend to prefer their own spaces, and a crate provides all that. Especially for dogs who are very anxious, crates are soothing.

    I never believed this until I ended up with an extremely neurotic dog and did some research on it. The crate proved to be a very effective training tool, and to this day she goes in every now and then.

    The big mistake people make is when they use the crate to punish the dog. That's a big no-no that sends confusing messages to the dog and is detrimental to getting the dog to like and enjoy his crate.

    By Blogger Tere, at 9:01 AM  

  • Tere,
    I realize crates can provide some security for a dog, like an indoor doghouse. I just think living in close quarters with an animal other than humans is an invitation to public health mayhem. Dogs as indoor pets were OK when people who bred them lived in palaces or castles or had farms where the room to roam indoors and out was vast. Most city folk really don't have that luxury. There are a few dogs bred for strictly indoor living (pocket and purse dogs and other vanity projects of spinsters and spoiled little girls), but most young people in the city don't consider toy dogs when thinking of a pet. Save the occasional abuela con su Papoose (an old neighbor who had a toy peke), most dogs need much more room than city living can afford. I just don't agree that pets fare better cooped up in a city apartment instead of having room to run. I know there are dog owners out there who would disagree vehemently, but I think they often speak from their own vanity rather than looking at what's best for the dog. They see an attack on them keeping the dog in the city as an attack on their personality (which it is--it's an attack for being selfish and egotistical) instead of focusing on how might they make the dog happy. In a way it's very similar to the attack on irresponsible people who have children they aren't prepared to rear. Just because you can have a dog doesn't mean you should.

    Making someone who didn't buy into the dog responsible for it is exactly why people don't give pets as gifts to small children anymore. It could end up being harmful for the animal because a person who doesn't love your dog as much as you do and doesn't want the hassle of taking care of it won't do a good job. In the end, the dog loses. I guess I'm trying to stick up for the underdog here, not its brainless and callous owner.

    By Anonymous Big Daddy, at 12:33 PM  

  • I totally relate to this b'cuz I've always lived in NY & I've always had dogs.

    When I was in College I used to live in a little two bedroom with a roomate and my dog (an Irish Setter named Sasha.)

    At first our schedules were over-lapping enough that there was always someone home to walk the dog. But once my roomate started dating this damn chick, then all of a sudden I get left holding the bag (literally.)

    To top it off, she hated dogs! (The girlfriend, not the Irish Setter.)

    So there was nothing left to do but get rid of the bitch--(the Setter, not the girl.)


    (Playing Carolines Comedy Club Wed July 19th, 7:00)

    By Blogger Crashtest Comic, at 2:57 PM  

  • I lived a similar situation during the summer after my freshman year at college. My summer share roomate had a dog, a cute little poodle/terrier mix, named Napolean. Unfortunately, the dog's owner was never around. I felt no responsibility to walk the dog, however, after about a week, the apartment began to develop a mysterious smell. So it became a matter of sucking in my pride/walking the dog, or living in a sewer. Luckily, the dog was a great dog, and after a while, I think the dog began to look to me as it's master.

    So I say to your friend. There is no use crying over the issue of the roomates lack of responsibility. THere is no question that the non-dog owner has NO duty to walk. However, if he chooses to take that route, be sure to buy alot of lysol.

    By Blogger Rune, at 6:31 PM  

  • Unless there had been some discussion prior to cementing the living arrangements, i.e., at some point so and so will have to impose on one of us to take care of the dog, I, NDO, would set down concrete rules. Sure, I'd be glad to help out OCCASIONALLY, but on a regular basis, no.
    That's really screwed up and rude.
    We have a Black Lab, cat and used to have a Yellow Lab as well. One just doesn't make someone else rearrange their lives, unless they agree to it.
    Also, it's cruel to have dogs in situations that aren't conducive. Forget the cardio workout. The poor dog's gonna collapse as well.

    The Frothmistress

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