Archive for the ‘Dogs’ Category

Service of Dogs Who Make a City Smile

Thursday, March 7th, 2024

My neighbors.

Sunday is the best day for dog-watching in Manhattan, especially on a springlike sunny one because there are pets on almost every street.

A block from my apartment a Saint Bernard was ambling sadly towards his apartment when his human turned away from the front door after punching in his building code. The pooch’s tail wagged and his gait quickened—he practically skipped with joy. I mentioned this to the young man walking him who beamed. Something tells me the pup got a bonus extra few blocks that morning.

The darling couple in the top photo live in my apartment building. Their puppy is a sweetheart and they are just as lovely. They enjoyed my appreciation of their furry bundle of cuteness.

When I admire a dog sometimes the walker doesn’t respond. I don’t stick around to see if it’s because they didn’t hear me over whatever might be blaring in their ears through earbuds, but I become discouraged about saying something to others for a while.

Do you speak to strangers about their dogs? Don’t dogs make a city a happy place?

Service of Pets are Family

Thursday, February 16th, 2023

Our country house came with a feral cat which the former owner asked us to feed. I was a dog person but soon the kitty purred his way into our hearts and became a beloved family member especially after he moved indoors during a devastating winter storm in which he couldn’t negotiate a path through human hip high snow. One day my husband said he thought he might be allergic to the cat. My response was “Isn’t there medicine for that?” Turned out he wasn’t. But you get the point. I adored all my pets and wasn’t going to give up any of them easily.

Most people feel that way. Take the 14 year old daughter of Venezuelan migrants who ditched her suitcase with all her belongings so as to carry her miniature white poodle Lupe for six hours through hip-high swamp water on the way through Mexico to the US border. I heard about the family and their cherished dog on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday with Angela Kocherga reporting.

The segment was about Ruby Montana and her Bridge Pup Rescue Group that operates in El Paso. Animals aren’t allowed in border patrol processing facilities so Montana is fostering Lupe for as long as it takes and she video chats with Lupe’s family with the sweet pooch on her lap. She says the pup is learning English. Dogs are forbidden where the family is currently living–in NYC.

A US border patrol agent had called Montana after the heartbroken family was hastily put on the bus north. The system works due to coordination between Montana, caring border patrol agents and the El Paso animal shelter.

I lived on an Air Force base with a pack of roving almost wild dogs that had been adopted by families stationed there and left behind when they moved to their next assignment. I would hope that this is no longer the case on any base. In contrast one of the first dogs I loved was Snoopy a Beagle who lived next door–in Turkey–on base housing. No child was cared for better than the Snoop.

Have you loved a pet–yours or one that lived next door or at a relative’s home? If you had to leave your home and couldn’t bring your cherished pet, what would you do? Aren’t people like Ruby Montana wonderful?

Service of Guest Prep: How We Make Company Comfortable

Monday, January 16th, 2023


Image by Davie Bicker from Pixabay

To what lengths do we go to make guests comfortable? I had a boss who said when her wastebaskets were empty her home was ready for company. I attended an event in a magnificent Fifth Avenue apartment where the living room furniture was removed to make room for 50 elegant folding chairs for guests to sit on to hear a speaker.

If I know you’re coming, I’ll squirrel away stuff, neaten piles and toss, unread, material I’d been planning to read for far too long. You could hardly find a path around the thigh-high piles of magazines, books, newspapers and mail a friend kept in her apartment. Envisioning that scene makes it easier for me to send stuff that’s been hanging around to the garbage room.

A friend said if her guests don’t like animals she corrals her four kitties into the basement. It’s heated, they have beds and water there. She nevertheless hears them scratching to get out. She was calming her friend who was freaking about having their book club meet at her home. That woman housed her dogs at the vets for the day so that they wouldn’t upset a member who was afraid of pets. In the end, that person didn’t come. Sigh.

I’ve written about the outspoken editor whom I feared would have exploded if she’d seen the hallmark stuffed bear in the hallway of the Explorer’s Club where we conducted a press event decades ago. Management kindly hid it until she left.

Do you do anything out of your routine before having friends over to make them–or you–comfortable?


Image by Kate Trysh from Pixabay

Service of Dog Owner Etiquette at Outdoor Restaurants

Thursday, July 8th, 2021

Image by ttwan from Pixabay

My friend grew up with beagles and loves dogs. She takes photos of all sorts she meets on her travels and posts them on social media. So when one lunged and barked at her at the outdoor section of a restaurant where she was having lunch with her family she was all at once shaken, scared and later angry. “I thought I was going to be bitten. I’ve never had a big dog jump on me and bark like that. She wasn’t wagging her tail.”

This is what happened: She was returning to her outdoor table when she passed the dog and said “hello.” That’s when the canine reacted. The owner, who was seated at a table, pulled the dog off of her and responded, “I know,” when my friend said “I didn’t touch her.”

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

“The woman never apologized or asked how I was. When we left the restaurant I dropped by her table and told her she should have done and only then did she say she was sorry, although she claimed to have said so earlier.” In addition my friend told the woman that if the dog can’t behave she doesn’t belong in restaurants.

She overheard the dog owner tell another restaurant patron that the dog was a rescue and becomes aggressive if anyone comes near.

In a previous post, “Service of Will Your Pooch–or Parrot–Pass the Scrutiny of a Co-Op Board?, I mentioned that when we bought a co-op apartment decades ago a board member interviewed a tenant of the building we lived in about our dog’s behavior. Today I see docile pooches on the street with muzzles and assume the precaution is required by a landlord, condo or co-op board. Some buildings make dogs use service elevators to avoid potentially nasty confrontations with other tenants in passenger elevators.

Restaurants have spent a great deal to create attractive outdoor spaces. They are not shutting down as NYC increasingly sheds its pandemic restrictions that caused them to crop up in the first place. In fact Governor Cuomo just extended for a year permission for restaurant outdoor dining structures that take up parking, sidewalk and driving spaces in the city. Do you think that there should be protocol for pet owners who bring their canines to outdoor restaurants as clearly some take no precautions to safeguard other patrons even when they know their pet has aggression issues?

Service of Pet Peeves III

Monday, February 22nd, 2021

I wrote the first two Pet Peeve posts in 2010 and 2011, summarized below as my feelings about them are unchanged. And although they’re not earmarked as such, many posts over years focus on irritating situations that fall in the peeve category, such as the recent ones about bait and switch sales tactics and euphemisms like “food insecurity” for hunger.

NOW

Hard to believe I have so many new ones.

I recently paid by credit card for bread in a bakery and dinner from a takeout-only Chinese place. In both instances an automatic tip request popped up on the tablet’s screen. Why should I give a tip to someone for putting a loaf of bread in a bag? I gave a tip for the Chinese takeout, even though I picked up my order, but friends who tip generously said they wouldn’t.

I don’t answer when surveys ask me what my income is and don’t believe that they should ask.

TV news producers: Stop showing close-ups of injecting vaccines into arms. For the squeamish who aren’t planning to get the vaccine it’s a turnoff and deterrent.

Train your vicious dog or give it away particularly if you live in an apartment house.

Respond to personal texts within 24 hours–especially if the sender infrequently reaches out and/or if they pose an important question.

If I never hear from you for months and we are personal acquaintances send me something more than a link to an article.

If I consistently “like” your Facebook postings, every once a quarter please “like” one of mine.

THEN

I’m surprised at how many of the oldie peeves are pandemic-proof. The exception might be how miffed I feel when my hands are full and someone near a door doesn’t hold it open. These days some might be afraid of getting too close. Another that irritated me 10 years ago was someone borrowing my pen and not returning it. I wouldn’t want it back now.

Otherwise, here are many of the oldie but still valid:

You call at a scheduled time and are told “Call me in 20 minutes.” The person who changes the time should make the second call.

Repetition of misinformation so it becomes true to some.

Drivers who don’t use their signal lights. It’s as handy a communication tool for pedestrians crossing city streets and avenues as it is for drivers.

Waste by government and corporations.

Buzzwords and jargon.

Tell me privately something that impacts me–don’t first announce it in public and if you want to give away something of mine, don’t ask me if it is OK in front of the potential recipient so I feel forced to say “yes.”

Don’t:

  • roll your eyes if I ask a question
  • offer to do something you know you won’t do
  • pull out on me causing me to slam on my brakes

Lack of traffic lights or signs at dangerous intersections drive me nuts.

Have your peeves stayed the same over years? Any new ones? Do people close to you know your peeves or do you keep them close to the vest?

Service of Delight in a Low Tech, Effective Invention

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

A friend whose husband had dementia described a harrowing moment when he disappeared one afternoon on their walk home from the grocery store. Her arms were full of parcels so she wasn’t holding on to him and it started raining so she’d pulled up her hoodie, partially covering her vision. She was distracted for only a moment and when she turned around her husband was gone. That day she found him. Similar incidents happen daily to adults and children whose caretakers must call the police to help find them.

“About 613,000 people were reported missing in 2018 to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Crime Information Center. About two-thirds of them were children,” reported Leslie Brody in her Wall Street Journal article, “Scent Kits Aid Tail-Wagging Detectives in Search for Missing People.” The kit is a simple tool to help bloodhounds find anyone who is lost.

Brody wrote: “Detective Christopher Nichols of Maywood’s K-9 Unit said he hopes the kits will be useful for finding people who tend to wander off, including the elderly with dementia and children with autism. It is urgent to give a search dog something with a unique scent to trace, but in some cases none can be found, he said: The missing person’s dirty socks, for example, may have been contaminated by mingling with other people’s laundry.” Maywood is in New Jersey.

The kit, Find ’em Scent Safe, that costs about $20, was developed by a police captain, Coby Webb, who is also treasurer of the National Police Bloodhound Association. “The kit has gloves and gauze for pressing on the user’s neck or armpit to pick up odor. The gauze goes into a plastic bag and then a small gray box that goes into the user’s freezer. In an emergency, the family can hand it to investigators. Police don’t store it.”

Brody reported that some families monitor people who tend to wander with GPS devices but that batteries could die, the wanderer could enter an area with no cell service or they might remove the device. Find ’em’s box design “helps protect it from tampering,” while dirty socks stored in the freezer can be tinkered with.

Citizens of Maywood–where Detective Nichols works–can get a free kit. “The police are promoting their offer…..at senior centers and schools for students with disabilities.”

What other simple tools like the scent kit have you heard of that can turn around a dangerous situation? Are there other preventative measures people can take to control the outcome of an emergency?

Service of Will Your Pooch–or Parrot–Pass the Scrutiny of a Co-Op Board?

Thursday, January 2nd, 2020

Decades ago I experienced a light version of Katherine Clarke’s story “So Your Dog Can Roll Over. Can It Pass a Co-op Board Interview?”  A co-op board member interviewed a tenant in our rental apartment to learn about Prunella, a mixed breed almost dachshund, before giving us the final approval for our apartment purchase. Our neighbor was insulted when that’s all they wanted to know–nothing about us. Prunella hardly ever barked. After she died, we adopted Cassie who did nothing but express her displeasure in an operatic voice when we weren’t home. So much for that.

Clarke reported: “Boards have reason to be selective as incidents like dog bites can open them up to legal liability. In some cases, boards are demanding headshots, résumés and even recommendation letters specifically for pets to protect themselves.”

She described pet owners who dressed them to the nines, brought them to a dog shrink to figure out the right balance of xanax and zoloft so they didn’t appear totally zonked, put one in a baby carriage because it had recently pulled a tendon and hid turkey in her pocket so the dog would stay in her lap. One couple buying a pied-a-terre drove 13 hours with two pets and spent the night at a pet-friendly hotel in NYC for a few minute review. Another prospective tenant borrowed her friend’s older, calmer poodle as hers had a tendency to act nut-so in front of strangers. She’s in and nobody has noticed the switch.

One prospective owner told Clarke: “My worst case scenario was that Lainie, the princess, would bark or jump on everyone and demand a tremendous amount of attention and Larry, who doesn’t hear so well, would pay no attention to us and walk all over the place. When he doesn’t like something, he will whine. And he can’t really hear you when you say, ‘Shut up, Larry.’ ”

Clarke wrote that one dog  “had to sit with a third-party ‘dog whisperer’ brought in by the board for a 10-minute evaluation, during which she [the owner] just quietly observed the pooch. Occasionally, they bring another dog into the room to test their response.”

One dog owner’s pet likes to “run through people’s legs from behind” when meeting someone new. She avoided an interview by producing sufficient information at the initial stages. She submitted a resume with photos and lists of likes–“treats, snoozing, playing fetch, tiny humans, radishes, apples and pears” and under qualifications she wrote “doesn’t shed.”

Clarke reported that “Many co-ops have banned certain more aggressive breeds. One particularly strict co-op on Lower Fifth Avenue has banned Alaskan Malamutes, Caucasian Mountain Dogs, Chihuahuas, Chow Chows, Dachshunds, Dalmatians, Doberman pinschers, German shepherds, Huskies, Jack Russell Terriers, Lhasa apsos, Old English Sheepdogs, Papillons, Pekingese, Pinschers, Pit Bulls, Presa Canarios, Rottweilers, Toy Poodles and Schnauzers, according to its rules.”

Birds are subject to scrutiny as well. One board insisted on meeting a parrot in midwinter even though the real estate agent pleaded special dispensation for fear the tropical bird would suffer in the cold in the trip to the meeting. “One particularly memorable incident, which the harrowed real estate agent ‘dubbed ‘Parrotgate,’ involved convincing the board of an Upper East Side co-op to accept a tropical four-inch-tall bird.” The agent said “No one wants to ride in an elevator with someone with a bird on their shoulder.”

I have owned and sold two co-ops and after the first swore I’d never again go near such a harrowing purchase and sale but I did. Buying and selling in certain buildings without a pet will cause extreme anxiety. Have you come across stressful unexpected hurdles in trying to buy a property–co-op, condo or private home?

Service of Second Chances for People and Pets

Thursday, April 18th, 2019

It’s Easter, Passover and spring, a good time to celebrate second chances.

I saw two Chihuahuas get one. They were on the Furry Friend Finder segment on CBS 2 Weekend, a local NYC metro news show. The dogs were 14 and 15 years old and needed a home–a difficult ask.  They’d been in a previous weekly segment in which the hosts introduce the audience to dogs in search of a forever family. A New Jersey family adopted the two elderly pups—they had a 14 year old pooch to welcome the others.

I’ve written previously about my sister and a friend each of whom adopted ancient orphaned cats, giving the felines a second chance at loving homes.

The odds that Tiger Woods, 43, would ever again win a major golf tournament seemed slim due to a series of back operations and psychological issues that appeared to send him off his game. Yet last weekend he walked off with yet another green jacket at the Masters Golf Tournament and he was no spring chicken–three years younger than Jack Nicklaus, the oldest player to don the trademark jacket.

And then there’s Bill Weld, 73, former Governor of Massachusetts, who is running for president on the Republican ticket taking on a 72 year old incumbent. There was a time when septuagenarians would not be fighting over one of the most difficult and stressful jobs on the planet.

And what about Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris? It is slated for another chance.

I’ve been blessed by second chances, have you? Please share examples.

Service of Backwards

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

Backwards is nothing new to me. I passed economics in college by figuring out the answer and writing the opposite in exams. Long before that, at camp Frog Hollow Farm, we celebrated backwards day.

Hit On for Off

My husband’s printer—an oldie but sturdy–has been acting up. To get it to work I disconnected it from electricity. I was reprimanded by instructions on the little screen when I turned it back on [and it worked again]. The printer told me that I’d turned it off incorrectly and warned me not to unplug the printer from electricity again before first turning it off by hitting ON.

Don’t Walk the Dog

New York is a walker’s city. It’s the best way to get many places quickly as traffic on sidewalks is usually easily negotiated unless you’re passing a Broadway theater when audiences convene or exit or around famous museums on Sunday afternoon. Tourists walk at a slower pace than most New Yorkers while rush hour foot traffic generally moves swiftly.

That said, I can’t get over the number of dogs that are carried in arms and in conveyances when out for “walks.” There are suddenly too many of them to explain it as the graying of the dog population in need of assistance. Exercise is as essential for dogs as it is for people.

“Wrong Way” Signs Ignored by Bicycles

Bicycles are invading the city—racing by on sidewalks now. And bikers pay zero attention to signs on one way avenues informing them that they are going the wrong way [photo top, center taken this week]. To think tax dollars paid for the printing and installation of signs that exclaim the obvious and are ignored! At least one friend was knocked down by a bike that was bucking the tide on a major avenue.

Growing Taste Sensations

A conversation with a 5 year old took a surprising turn. She told me that when she was young, she liked to eat everything but not anymore. There’s a lot she doesn’t care for now, she said. And here I thought people’s tastes expand as they “age.”

Can you share any examples of backwards or counterintuitive behavior that you’ve seen or heard?

Service of DNA to Train Pet Owners

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

My nephew Barry at the vet.

My nephew Barry at the vet.

My idea of capturing DNA off garbage tossed on otherwise pristine country roads isn’t as farfetched as I once thought [though I haven’t yet figured out the part about matching/connecting it to the perpetrators’ genetic footprint.]

The board of a Brooklyn condo with about 440 apartments, One Brooklyn Bridge Park, did a similar thing. Some owners of 175 dog residents allowed their furry charges to defecate and urinate in public indoor spaces leaving it up to staff to clean up, ignoring countless pleas to stop. As a result tenants now have to register each pet for $35, DNA is taken, checked against traces found and fees meted out.

In December 2014 building staff recorded the number and types of incidents, according to Ginia Bellafante reporting in her New York Times article “Using DNA to Fight Dog Owners’ Discourtesy in Brooklyn.” That month there was “a mix of diarrhea, feces, urine and vomit: found on virtually every floor including the main lobby and north and south lobbies; found in all five elevators and with the staff cleanup time ranging from 10 to 50 minutes (average time roughly 20 minutes) per incident.”

Bellafante noted that the waste problem at One Brooklyn Bridge Park was especially bad in inclement weather. Can you imagine paying to live with such neighbors? That honor doesn’t come cheap. Bellafante wrote that two bedroom apartments “of modest size” cost $2.5 million. NYC and many other municipalities have poop scoop laws for streets and sidewalks to enhance cohabitation of man and pooch. You’d expect, at the least, that civilized people would exhibit similar respect inside their own homes.

According to Bellafante a Tennessee-based biotech company’s subsidiary, Poo Prints, does the trick at this apartment house and in over 1,000 other buildings in NY and around the country. She reported that in Naples, Italy an effective dog genetic testing program comes with $685 fines for violators. Through genetic matches, One Brooklyn Bridge Park has charged seven owners $250 per occurrence since May. The initiative seems to be working.

I’ve owned dogs in NYC and their companionship made it well worth daily walks through snow, rain, heat or gloom of night. It wouldn’t occur to me to use the public areas of any place in which I live or visit as a pet WC and inflict my pet’s mess on others much less expect staff to clean it up. Accidents happen. My five month old puppy freshly adopted from Bide-a-Wee peed in the elevator of a Brooklyn co-op I lived in years ago. I was immediately on the job with paper towel, disinfectant and Nature’s Miracle to make amends. Later, because the elevator carpet was still wet when a neighbor asked the doorman about the stain, the doorman, a dog person, [and a very nice man who sensed my distress] told him: “One of the children spilled his soda.”

I thought animal lovers were a breed apart, especially those who invite pets to join their families. This story proves me wrong. Have you ever before heard of such an epidemic of slothful, disrespectful, inhuman behavior?

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