Dogs are very important to the economy in New York. I don’t suppose many people realize this.
I hadn’t realized this for quite some time, but recently I was walking down the sidewalk as one often does here. The sidewalk is always covered in dog poop remnants from the folks that clean up after their dogs, and sometimes whole dog poop from the jerks who don’t clean up after their dogs. And there’s always lots of dog urine. Dog urine on every pole, hydrant and stationary object. My personal favorite is dog urine in the middle of the sidewalk, courtesy of the dog owners who can’t be bothered to get their pet out of the way of people traffic. While I expect to see trails of dog tinkle coming from a flower planter or building corner, the mysterious puddle in the middle of the sidewalk is always a joy. After I’ve walked in it, I try and tell myself some cute little kid dropped a can of soda.
Suffice to say there are plenty of dogs here. Why, I’m not sure. I would never live in a city with a dog. It seems cruel. They apparently serve two purposes: to help you meet people, and to accompany you shopping at Barney’s. I saw no fewer than four little ratty dogs tucked under the arms of their owners, like animated footballs, this weekend while at Barney’s. Why you’d take a small animal out with you while you shopped for an overpriced sweater is beyond me.
But, many cityfolk don’t agree. They love their dogs. They love shopping with their dogs, And they love to dress their dogs in overpriced dog sweaters and walk them on rhinestone leashes. That brings me back to my premise that dogs are very important to our economy.
In my neighborhood I can think of three businesses that cater to dog owners by selling them what you’d call upscale pet goods. These are places with designer doggie beds, doggie dishes and all the fixings so you can drag your mutt all over the city with his head jutting out of a Gucci doggie tote. These are very new businesses too, mind you, which to me would seem to indicate the economy is doing well. What better indicator of the city’s financial health could be better than the Dog Shop Economic Index? Certainly these things go out of business during real recessions or depressions. The fact that there are stores in my immediate vicinity where I can purchase an absurdly priced piece of dog clothing would seem to indicate that the economy is on the rebound. Maybe Bush’s tax cuts worked after all and folks opted to spend their $300 on a designer leash.
But that’s not the only dog-oriented establishment. There’s a dog spa down the street, and another not too far. In fact, I pass dog spas and hotels all the time. You can treat your dog to a day at the spa while you’re off working to pay for your dog’s lifestyle. If you’re called out of town, and presumably have no friends or family to watch your dog, you can put him up at the dog hotel and insure he’s well looked after. Then head out of town on your business trip – again, earning money so that your dog can live a life of leisure.
Pet walking services are in abundance as well. These are actually one of the greatest sources of under-the-table income for individuals needing to make extra money; actors, for example. I know several actors who have walked dogs, are walking dogs, or are talking about walking dogs in the near future. Walking dogs takes no perceivable talent, really. All you need are some flyers and scotch tape to start your business. If you’re fine with the poop-picking-up part then you have overcome the main obstacle.
I tend to think you shouldn’t have dogs, or children, if someone is not going to be around to take care of them, but I guess I’m old fashioned.
There are different levels of dog walking. The cheaper services are pack walkers who take several dogs out at the same time. I have also seen advertisements for “no pack walks” in the event your dog is above walking around with other dogs. This would seem to cater more to the ego of the owner than the dog, as I don’t think dogs really care if they walk in a pack or not. In fact, a pack offers more asses to sniff, so why wouldn’t they want a pack walk? I saw a flyer advertising dog walking services for $15 a day. Not being a dog owner I don’t know if that’s considered reasonable or not. But I think it’s totally insane, pack walk or not.
And so, in the midst of all this dog poop and urine, I have done something that I don’t normally do: I found the bright side. Now, when I look down and see a brown smear or trail of Schnauzer pee, I see dollar signs. I see a strong economy. I see entrepreneurial gay guys opening stores selling Prada for poodles. I see actors scraping up rent money.
And when I see a wrinkled woman with too much makeup, Jackie-O sunglasses and a sweater-clad Shih Tzu tucked under her arm, I no longer think she’s a freak show. I think she’s a freak show who is contributing to the economy and helping to make this city a great place to live. As long as you keep looking down.