An Ask for Dog Walkers of the Village

By Shannon McNamara

It’s not lost on me that the topic of owners and their dogs (especially here in New York City) is an incredibly personal one. As my brother-in-law once told me, “Shannon, you can’t ever tell people that you’re not a huge dog person. They’ll think you’re Hitler. You have to instead say…that you’re a people person.”

So as a people person, I have a few small asks for the dog walkers of the Village—asks that I think are reasonable, fair, and echoed by a silent majority of fellow people persons!

#1: The Red Rover leashes

Remember the elementary school game Red Rover? You would make a long chain across a field by holding hands with students next to you, then call on a student across the field to run over, and try to rip through your hand-held chain.

I also call “Red Rover” something that happens when folks walk their dogs in the Village. I’ll be trying to walk across Hudson Street, but a dog will be on one end of the sidewalk, while their owner is on the complete opposite side of the sidewalk, and in between me and my location is a six-foot-long red leash blocking the sidewalk.

You either have to awkwardly step over the leash, or wait until the owner notices what’s happening and then moves closer to their dog, and each time I come across this I feel like I’m back in college, waiting for a bouncer to let down the red velvet rope so I can enter a VIP section of the sidewalk. Don’t let your leash length block sidewalk traffic!

#2: Commands, not conversation

How many times has this happened to you—you’re walking in the Village, someone’s dog comes up to you, they jump on you excitedly, and the owner smiles and says, “Oh Buster, do we think it’s a good idea to jump on people?”

A great way to speak to a human child about how to act in public, but this is a dog. I know we’ve made advances in science and technology, but dogs still don’t speak English. Whenever a dog jumps on or scratches me, I’m baffled by how owners will converse with their dog about the situation at a sixth grade reading comprehension level instead of a firm “down” or “off” or a tug on the leash.

I think having conversations with your dog is adorable! I used to talk to my family dog growing up for hours! But when he jumped on someone or was pestering them? I would use commands for my dog, and then apologize to the human with my words. I just think that’s how it should be!

#3: Poo York City

I understand that dogs have diarrhea and they poop, but I think it’s reasonable to not want dog poop and skid marks on the sidewalk, right? It’s almost springtime and there are some sandals in my closet that I want to wear that put my feet real close to the pavement.
Phew, that felt good to get off my chest.

I hope I didn’t come across like a complete sociopath with these requests, but it’s been weighing on me since I moved here in 2018. And please know that I don’t dislike your dog! I swear! I’m just a people person!