|Vol. I . . . . No. 6||SUNDAY, AUGUST 31, 1997|
The dog days were rather cool this year and snuck up me. Truth be told, I dropped the ball. But as we all know, I wouldn't drop the ball if Frances could throw properly. So here I am Labor Day weekend writing for the first "dog days" issue published independently as Otto's Column. Also, many of the contributions I solicited didn't come through. When Labor Day arrived, I said grumpily: "Whoever's not in, is out." Whoopy, however, has forced me to add that contributions are always welcome. Sorry, we can only publish letters with the owner's name, address, and phone.
Canine Community in Crisis
Perhaps because of my somber German shepherd temperament, I view current developments in the dog community as very serious. We are a community in crisis under pressure on several fronts.
Signs of the times
'No Pets,' You Ought to Be Ashamed
The feeding frenzy of apartment seekers in Williamsburg has led to apartment appeals pasted on the lampposts I piss on: "no pets," "quiet married couple," these notices read. These are the kind of folks who would advertise themselves as: "white, well-to-do, heterosexual." Otto is quietly lobbying all his property owning human friends to actively screen out the dogless and catless, as well as those who resort to racist, classist, sexist appeals. End discrimination against interspecies households.
Landlord discrimination against pet owners is a contributing cause to pet abandonment. Naturally, I'm not condoning the irresponsibility of people who take their dog to another neighborhood--sometimes it seems that people always choose Williamsburg--and lose it. Still, look at the options people have. People just scraping by, no money in a bank account for security, a neighbor's complaint, a landlord's ultimatum. No-kill shelters full to the gills. The Center for Animal Care and Control sending out dog carcasses in semitrailers. If I'd have ended up in the pound rather than in the street, you wouldn't be reading this today. Note to dogs, if you and your owner have a pet friendly landlord, go easy on his or her property.
Can Giuliani get his police force to heel?
It's a Package Deal, Guys
Humans, don't let anyone tell you dog ownership is a frill. Dog ownership is far less a frill than ownership of a personal automobile. Humans and dogs evolved together, Yukon's owner Valerie read somewhere. Before Homo sapiens existed as a species, hominids and canids were hunting, sharing food, and cavorting together. Dog ownership is the modern expression of an innate biologic drive, probably older than marriage as the institutionalization of human sex drives. It is part of the inalienable right to the "pursuit of happiness." Doglessness may sometimes be necessary, but if doglessness becomes endemic or the norm that sad condition will further erode our society. Dogs are one of the few species that adjust like humans to the urban environment. We keep you natural men and women when you insist on living in an unnatural environment. Remember what dogs need to be happy makes human life happier, too. Open space, safe for recreational activities and social life, clean streets free of chicken bones and broken glass, food to eat, places to live, and social responsibility.
Humans & Dogs Evolved Together
The corollary to acknowledging the innate need for dog ownership is to help those who aren't property owners, who might have disabilities, who may not earn a lot of money, have and keep their dogs. I'm a great believer in "good enough" dog owners.
After all, I live with Frances, a human who owns no property, has an erratic income, and doesn't supply me or my canine companions with a yard, a pick-up truck, or jaunts to the country. A dog can in every sense of the word die waiting to be adopted if these are the standards of dog ownership. Other dogs' owners are worse off and yet struggle to keep their interspecies households together. The canine members of an interspecies family are living temporarily in the Otto and Whoopy Connubial Kennel at the B.A.R.C. kennel. Their owner, an older woman with a heart condition, visits them and walks them. Her apartment was condemned, she has been hospitalized for her heart problems, yet she is still committed to her dogs. Her social worker worked with B.A.R.C. to keep this family together. As a B.A.R.C. alumna, Whoopy is especially proud of her pet project "the connubial kennel." Sometimes we don't have such happy solutions, so let's be proud of what we can do.
Okay guys, you know the drill. Bring at least two dogs into your household, and if you can't do that, provide short-term foster care for a puppy or for a dog that needs rehabilitation before he or she is adopted. Volunteer at B.A.R.C. or another local shelter. If you can't give a shelter dog a home, at least give him a walk. Stand by dog owners, even if you're not one. Write elected officials about the need for dog runs and the need for the city to accommodate a dog's need for exercise. Help make New York dog friendly.
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