The Soapbox: What about positive effects of dogs?

This column was submitted by Randi Sinel of Styuyvesant Town re: “Barking mad about doggie toilets,” Letter, T&V, July 6

Excuse me for not having specific numbers, but I believe there are more than 20+ playgrounds designed for children to play in. The number of no-dog areas has grown exponentially – I just walked my dog in the courtyard at 20th and First and counted at least five no-dog areas. There is one particularly beautiful, fenced-off, grassy area that is larger than the size of all of the other grassy areas in the courtyard combined. It amazes me that dog-hating tenants refuse to simply take advantage of the tremendous number of ST land that has been put aside solely for their use, but instead, choose to focus on the areas not dedicated to them but shared with the dog owners. What? Other people shouldn’t be happy too?

In case you did not know, there is not one solitary piece of land in ST/PCV that would protect us (dog owners) from the venom spewed on us by the miserable minority. And the overwhelming majority of dog owning tenants follow the rules and are equally upset (and quite vocal) with dog owners who do not.

And you may not believe this, but the majority of tenants without dogs, even those who had lived here for a long-time before the new pet policy, feel that the neighborhood is better off now. Seriously, I’ve discussed it with many. It is astounding how many more people stop to say hello/pet, keep walking but say something nice, smile or laugh and even smile while looking down or straight ahead in that big city way when you have a dog by your side. And I invite those of you who do not believe me (and I am sure there will be many) to join me on a walk to count the numbers of the positive versus non-positive (giving you the benefit of the doubt with the use of non-positive instead of negative) people interactions throughout. Or, why don’t you simply walk around town yourself and count the number of people who, without solicitation, stop to talk to you or say hello or even smile? Or even try walking around and exuberantly saying hello to fellow residents you don’t know and see how many strange looks you get versus happy or even more exuberant responses!

A new dog owner who lives in the building next to me tells the story of living here for four years prior to becoming such and having barely been acknowledged by any fellow residents before (let us leave out elevator or door-holding niceties, shall we? Or leave them in and simply compare the landslide loss in comparing to interactions with the dog). It is the same with all of us. Many of the older people so appreciate the opportunity to interact with the dogs (and their owners). Many say that they can’t take care of their own, but they feel the neighborhood has become a much friendlier place.

And while security has had their problems since the dog policy has changed, long-time employees acknowledge that the neighborhood is tangibly more friendly and positive for most residents since. And, that the majority of headaches could have been avoided had there been clear policies and rules instituted from the very beginning, and have been now that they are.

Finally, as with anything else, instead of simply complaining and seeing and wanting a one-sided, only my opinions and needs should be considered solution, why don’t you try to see other points of view? Why don’t you support creating a small number of designated dog-friendly areas on the property to go along with the enormous number of already existing, dog-forbidden areas? There are so many different ways that these can be in place quickly, cheaply, well-run and even fully-staffed with an actual profit.

Clearly, dog owners go above and beyond to make their dogs happy – pet spending constitutes $55 billion (yes, that’s BILLION!) in retail sales a year – and resident owners would prefer to have their dogs in a positive environment, but currently get zero support from property management.

Clearly, there are and will be rule-breakers in any and all circumstances, but there is no other population that is so targeted for negativity in this community.

Have there been injuries caused by larger breeds? No. But many have been banned and weight limits are being lowered. Why? But have you heard about bicycle/pedestrian accidents? Yes! Close calls with scooters? I know I’ve seen many. I’ve got to move on – the negativity is killing me.

The truth is that people who don’t like dogs have more time and energy to complain and campaign for their cause.

If you take the time to research my claims you will find that dog-lovers have more social interactions, larger families, enjoy more time pursuing hobbies, do more charity work, contribute higher percentages of income to charities, have more disposable income, are more physically active and healthy in general and have a happier outlook on life. And that is the reason that I do not have the time or want to expend my energy, countering the negativity pursued by those who have the extra time and energy because they have limited amounts of the above.

So even though the productive step would be for the unhappy to pursue win-win solutions, I fully expect the responses to my comments to be overwhelmingly negative… all of the happy people are too busy enjoying the beautiful day and enjoying life!

2 thoughts on “The Soapbox: What about positive effects of dogs?

  1. Randi, I could not agree more. Everyday we lose more and more space where are dogs are allowed to go. Why are there so many “No Dog Designated area’s” and not ONE Dog designated area? Just this morning I was yelled at by security because my dog was sniffing an area near the oval. Why doesn’t the Stuytown security officers ever yell at the kids running through the plants/bushes who do more damage than any dog I’ve ever seen? Or riding their scooters and bikes into people? I moved to stuyvesant town because it was dog friendly, now I’m thinking of leaving at the end of my lease. I’ve had it and I think we need to schedule a meeting for all dog owners in Stuyvesant town so our voices can be heard. Otherwise, we’ll end up with no space at all….

    • I’ve been trying to figure out a way to organize resident dog owners so that we can put force behind pursuing management solutions. I believe I have some great ideas about how to move forward, and although I have taken some smaller steps, if we could organize a team effort I think we might really be able to get some things accomplished. Anyway to get in touch without listing contact info here?

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