Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Arf Arf Awoo! A few words of sympathy for the poor little rich dogs of New York

“Hello, my name is Daisy. I live in a $2.7 million, eight-room apartment on Park Avenue, and my people work. I’m home alone or with the maid and the cook most of the day, doing cocker spaniel things like sleeping on the couch, stealing underwear from under the kids’ beds and chewing the kids’ action figures – except when the dog wranglers come to pick me up.
" The dog wranglers come for me twice a day. The doorman takes me down in the elevator and I join about a dozen of my other pals for a long walk with Wrangler Ernesto or Wrangler Jennifer.”

Hey, you can’t make this stuff up! Manhatan's Upper East Side is heavily populated by dogs whose miserable lives somehow get caused by the cushy lifestyles of their owners. (To a lesser extent, you’ll find similarly miserable canine products of well-to-do lifestyles on the Upper West Side and Greenwich Village.)

The dogs have their own pathetic social circles, their own human friends and their own organized exercise classes. But don't think this is necessarily a good thing.

I mean, think about it. The human Dad of the household works, probably at an investment bank or a law firm. Mom probably works too, also at a high-end job. The girls go to you-can't-afford-'em prep schools like Nightingale-Bamford or Spence or Dalton. The boys are also at Dalton, or maybe at St. David’s or Riverdale. So who’s going to take care of the poor pathetic household dog?

Don’t look at the maid, man. She has those eight rooms to keep sparkling. And maybe more rooms than that. She has wall-to-wall broadloom to vacuum in some rooms and antique Persian rugs to deal with in others. There are marble-walled bathrooms to polish, granite kitchen counter tops to shine, jacuzzis and three-nozzle showers to scour, a high-priced Viking stove to polish, and the Royal Copenhagen to load into the dishwasher. And furthermore, shopping errands have to get done, laundry has to get washed, the kids have to get met when they get home.

And still furthermore, if Daisy poops on the Edward Fields broadloom, there’s going to be hell to pay. That's where the dog walking service comes in.

I know, I know, if you don’t walk your own dog, then what’s the point in having one? Well, in some households, the lonely little rich dog gets walked by a family member in the evening, if that consoles you any.

On weekends, the dog goes out to Southampton, or Bridgehampton, or Easthampton on Long Island, or Lakeville, Connecticut. Not that the dog has a great time there, either. The family has a social life. The kids go to the beach or each others’ houses. The adults play golf and tennis, neither a sport that particularly welcomes dogs. The poor pathetic dogs, in fact, spend most of their "country" time in the house, barking at squirrels through the window.

So when you get right down to it, 30-minute to two hours walks with dog-walkers and maybe 10 to 20 other dogs are the only bright spots in a Park Avenue pooch’s life. This is when the dogs have a whole hour to decide exactly when they’re going to relieve themselves. This is when the dogs can socialize with their doggy pals, sniff one another, maybe even do a little mutual humping in the company of a dog walker who doesn’t freak out when it happens.

Don’t laugh, friends, this is big business. Last time I looked, the Manhattan Yellow Pages listed 25 “Pet Sitting & Exercising Services,” with names like “Dr. Larry’s Animal Services,” “Dog & Co,” “Pet Trekkers,” “Puddles Pet Service,” “Two Dogs & a Goat Incorporated” (don’t ask!), and even “Walk This Way Canine Behavior Therapy.” Sure the dogs need behavior therapy. Leaving them home alone most of the day with the maid has royally screwed up their canine minds.

Too bad, too, because essentially, these are “nice” dogs. They're well-behaved, tutored by the best dog tutors New York has to offer, and not very likely to attack strangers like some downmarket pit bull.

They’re also overwhelmingly purebreds. It just wouldn’t do to have a mutt on Park Avenue.

Some dogs who actually get time with their owners ought to be thankful they're mutts.

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